Frederick Douglass: Literary Analysis Essays

1243 Words Apr 16th, 2011 5 Pages
“Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass: Literary Analysis”
In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass explains, in great detail, how slave master would use a variety of methods to dehumanize slaves located on their plantation. These methods involved both severe physical and psychological trauma. Nevertheless, Douglass remains diligent and finds a way to resist the harsh reality of being a slave. Because of his immovable desire to acquire knowledge to his fighting encounter with Mr. Covey, these experiences help shape Douglass to be the archetype of what it means to go from slavery to freedom. This essay will highlight the physical and psychological tactics used on slaves. In addition, the aspect of how Douglass resists the
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Another example of slave master’s methods to dehumanize slaves were the living conditions provided to slaves. Along with the lashings and severe punishment to which slaves were often subjected, they were also kept half-starved. As Douglass writes, “They [Henrietta and Mary] seldom knew what it was to eat a full meal.” Douglass adds, “I have seen Mary contending with the pigs for the offal thrown into the street.” (pp. 411-412) This reveals how slave masters would not feed slaves adequate portions of food, which led to many slaves being extremely thin and malnourished. Knowledge of such despicable acts happening to one's family can only inspire feelings of despise, disgust and hatred. Douglass, however, used this as fuel to inspire his freedom. Next, the psychological trauma will be examined, in particular the valuation and division of slaves. Slaveholders deemed slaves as valuable assets such as clothes, furniture, pigs, and horses which was how slaves were sold and traded. By this method, slave masters would mentally engrain the message to slaves that they were not, indeed, human beings, but rather items of personal belongings. As a result, slaves did not know their self-worth. Another method of psychological distress would be to divide slaves from their families. In this effort, slaves were both stripped of both their morale and identity. The very first chapter of Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass proves this assertion.
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