After the completion of both “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave,” by Frederick Douglass and “Self Reliance”, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, a person may notice a trend that both authors focused on. The trend was the key to happiness or self-fulfillment. Both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Frederick Douglass believed that acquiring knowledge is what people should aim for throughout their lives. They both had different viewpoints when it came to the type of knowledge individuals should gain. Douglass believed that one should seek to develop their mind while Emerson encouraged people to develop their soul. Frederick Douglass’ novel was a self-titled book depicting the trials and tribulations he had to prevail over as an American slave. Frederick’s views his time as a slave as being paramount in determining the path he decided to take in his future. Throughout time he portrayed a higher level of thinking than most people that were in the predicament as Frederick Douglass. He eventually had less hatred for his masters as he believed they gave him a chance to discover himself as a person. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s novel was more of a second person’s view of others during the post slavery era of America. This is indicated by Frederick Douglass’ book and the use of first person. It is similar to the tone and use of the same person in self-reliance where Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke of the quest he encountered towards identifying his identity and inner self. The setting
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Picture this going through life without the ability to read or write. Without these abilities, it is impossible for a person to be a functioning member of society. In addition, imagine that someone is purposely limiting your knowledge to keep a leash on your independence. Not only is an American slave raised without skills in literacy, he cannot be taught to read unless someone breaks the law. In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, the reader is given a detailed explanation of why slave masters keep their slaves ignorant and the effects such a strategy has on the slaves’ lives. In his autobiography, Douglass describes how the knowledge he obtains has substantial positive and negative effects on his psyche. He is given renewed passion and hope for freedom while struggling with the burden of enlightenment of his situation. Ultimately, however, education shapes his fate, and he achieves freedom and prominence as an advocate for abolition.
Towards the end of chapter ten in The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglas describes how slave owners would make slaves’ holidays miserable. Slave owners did this to manipulate the slaves into believing that they are better off in slavery. They would entice slaves to get drunk by placing bets on who could drink the most. When a slave had had enough to drink, he would then ask for something else, but unknowingly receive more alcohol. As a result, slaves would prefer to work in the fields instead of having holidays. This passage illustrates how African Americans remained content in their shackles of slavery for 245 years in America.
Published in 1845, ‘Narrative of life of Frederick Douglass an American slave written by himself’ is still the most highly acclaimed American autobiography ever written. It was published seven years after Douglass escaped from his life as a slave in Maryland. It describes his experience of being slave and his psychological insights into the slave-master relationship. The main focus is on ‘How he learn to read and write ‘and ‘the pain of slavery.’ The goal of this paper is to bring more insight analysis of his narrative life through the most famous two chapter’s in which he defines, “How he learn to read and write” and “The pain of slavery.” To achieve this goal, the paper is organized into four main sections. First, author background and
Everyone would agree that education helps develop us into who we are and what we can become. We are able to explore new ideas and concepts, which leads to more knowledge. In the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass is thrown into a new world of knowledge and opportunity, once he learns how to read and write. Through his knowledge, he learns more about his situation and potential. Douglass discovers that a slave was set free by persuading his master, and as a result, this information makes Douglass an avid learner. He understands that education is his only way out of slavery. Education empowers people to make good decisions and paves a future that provides opportunities. An education can open doors that were once closed.
Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, more commonly known as Frederick Douglass, was born around 1818 in Talbot County, Maryland (Hagler). Douglass was one of the most influential human rights leaders and one of the most renowned abolitionists. By learning to read and write around the age of 10, Douglass was able to develop a greater understanding of the world that didn’t revolve around slavery, along with the desire to become a free man and civil rights activist (Hagler). Douglass is now well known for his famous autobiography, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, in which he recalls his many experiences in slavery and the ways he dealt with the daily suffering. In his autobiographical narrative, The Narrative of the Life
Frederick Douglass, an African American slave, searches for liberation against the shackles of slavery through education; as told in Frederick Douglass’ Narrative in a Life of Frederick Douglass. Douglass portrays education as a paradox; knowledge brings him both great joy and great pain. Learning opens up new worlds for Douglass, and he becomes obsessed with the possibility of freedom. At the same time, he envies his fellow slaves for their ignorance. They do not understand what their enslavers have stolen from them. Douglass grapples with the hopelessness of his plight, but knowledge empowers him enough to set himself free from a life of benightedness, and to share that knowledge with others.
“You are a product of your environment.”- W. Clement. The way you were raised, the people who raised you and the community that you are raised in all play a role in who you are as an individual. Constantly throughout time the way an individual defines themselves is based on their roots, the actions or reactions that have built a foundation of who they’re today. Through the lens of a slave later turned into one of the largest faces of abolitionist acts, Frederick Douglass creates “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” in which he accounts the community he was raised in and the constant fear instilled within his community as well as his later assimilation into new communities and possibly being responsible for creation of a
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” This famous quote is from a speech given by one of America’s most influential abolitionist speakers, Frederick Douglass. Born into slavery, this great American leader led a life many of us would find impossible to bear. After gaining his freedom from slavery, Douglass shared his stories through impressive speeches and vivid autobiographies, which helped America move forward as a country liberated from racial inequality. Although Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave allows readers to understand what life was like for slaves in antebellum America, the most important and relevant lesson to take away from this narrative today is the importance of perseverance. Douglass’s courage to resist and learn paired with his determination to keep his faith and ultimately find himself, is something to which people from every culture and time period can relate.
After reading both “Self Reliance,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson and “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” by Frederick Douglass, one might notice a trend in what both writers regard as the key to happiness or self-fulfillment. Emerson and Douglass both imply that acquiring knowledge is what people should strive for throughout their lives. However, their perceptions on the kind of knowledge should be attained is where their ideas diverge; Emerson is the one that encourages one to develop the soul whereas with Douglass, it is the mind.
The theme of individual versus society has been featured in many pieces of literature over time. This conflict can be described as an individual’s struggle against the confines of their culture or society. The individual wrestles with either upholding society’s rules or breaking them. The conflict of the individual versus society is included in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass. In his memoir, Douglass, who was a slave at the time, learned how to read and write. This was deviant from society in that period because slaves were not allowed to read and write. This conflict also appears in real life situations, such as the women’s suffrage movement or the Civil Rights Movement. Members of these movements did things that deviated from societal norms at the time. The theme of the individual versus society is presented as an individual deviating from society’s ideals.
The “Narratives of the Life of Frederick Douglass” is the story of Frederick Douglass’ life from the time he was born into slavery, to the time he escaped to freedom in the north. When Douglass wrote this book, slavery was still legal in a large portion of the United States. After Douglass’ escape to freedom and his continuation of his education, he became an abolitionist through his works of literature and speeches. In “The Blessings of Slavery”, by George Fitzhugh he states that southern slaves for the most part are the freest and happiest people in the world. He also goes on to say a number of other things that basically establish that slaves live an easy and good life compared to others. Frederick Douglass’ pure story telling in the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” directly goes against any argument for slavery from Fitzhugh, by revealing the harshness of the institution of slavery and the individuals behind it. In each piece of literature both authors also unknowingly touch on topics of early American history such as free labor ideology and paternalism therefore deepening our knowledge of popular understandings during this time period. Douglass refutes Fitzhugh’s pro-slavery argument of the average slave living an ideal life, by disproving early ideas of the free labor system and paternalism through real life encounters of the physical oppression slaves faced on the day to day basis in the forms of inhumane treatment and violence, as well as the true harsh
“My mother was of a darker complexion than either my grandmother or grandfather. My father was a white man. He was admitted to be such by all I ever heard speak of my parentage.”
Being a slave in the United States was not uncommon in the 19th century. There were many brutalities of being a slave including physical and spiritual abuse. Slaves were considered property and not as human beings. They were mistreated and kept illiterate. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave is a autobiography written by Frederick Douglass himself that told of his experiences of being a slave in the United States. He expresses the brutality the slave owners and how he struggled with running away to become a free human being. The themes of his story include: the ignorance of slaves, the treatment of slaves as property, religion used as justification, and the victimization of female slaves.
According to The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, the search for freedom is one that can only be accomplished with one self. The relationship between self, and community is developed through the Narrative of Frederick Douglass to understand freedom. Through the life of Frederick Douglass, freedom awakens him to the community. Freedom is gained for the individual by the individual. As mentioned by Walt Whitman in verse 46, “Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you” Douglass is forced to think of only himself in order to understand himself and take action
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass perfectly depicts the dreadful experience of living in slavery. From being unsure of the day he was born, to his first beating from a master, to the brutal and exhausting work, and to the joyous day he was freed. Besides describing his experience as a slave, he describes the toll slavery had on the masters and families of slaves. Frederick Douglass also includes his view of education in relation to freedom. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is a good excerpt from The Classic Slave Narratives that can be considered a good historical resource due to the historical content it provides about slavery.