The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave details the progression of a slave to a man, and thus, the formation of his identity. The narrative functions as a persuasive essay, written in the hopes that it would successfully lead to “hastening the glad day of deliverance to the millions of [his] brethren in bonds” (Douglass 331). As an institution, slavery endeavored to reduce the men, women, and children “in bonds” to a state less than human. The slave identity, according to the institution of slavery, was not to be that of a rational, self forming, equal human being, but rather, a human animal whose purpose is to work and obey the whims of their “master.” For these reasons, Douglass articulates a distinction
Frederick Douglass was an important leader who helped fight for slaves freedom in the 19th Century. Religion played a major role in Mr. Douglass’s life. In his autobiography, he describes his daily struggles of being a slave and how he escaped to freedom. In his narrative, he explains the way his masters would beat, rape, and murder slaves, but only to use their Christian beliefs to explain why they did it and basically use it as an excuse. Douglass himself was also a Christian and explains in his autobiography that the religious views of the masters were very different from the religious views the slaves had. Frederick Douglass composed his autobiography to explain that the master's view of Christianity was unholy and if there was no change to be made, it could continue and lead to an increase in sacrilegious acts.
Many people believe that Christians played a great role in abolishing slavery. However, Douglass’ ideas about religion and its connection to slavery shine a light on the dark side of Christianity. Douglass’ account of his own life is a very eloquent first hand retelling of the suffering and cruelty that many slaves were going through. His account gives a detail of the ills that were committed against the slaves. The atrocities committed by the various different masters varied in intensity depending on the masters’ individual personality (Glancy 42). This first hand narrative gives us a glimpse in to the connection between religion (Christianity) and slavery.
Since before the time of Jesus Christ, religious hypocrisy has run rampant throughout those who held power. Countless lives have been affected by others twisting religious interpretation in order to fit their own needs. Slaveholders used religion and scripture to their advantage when disciplining slaves, sometimes even if they did no wrong. Religious hypocrisy is especially relevant in the life of Frederick Douglass. Frederick Douglass’s life story depicts how religious hypocrisy committed by both slaves and slaveholders diminished the rights of slaves, while at the same time allowing injustice to endure.
Douglass’s narrative is a courageous work, as it confronts the slavery institution, and the misuse of Christianity by the slave owners
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
In addition to Jacobs’ account, Douglass’ narrative focused on his journey through manhood and freedom – “…I wished I could be as free as they would be when they got to be men … ‘Have not I as good a right to be free as you have?’” (Douglass, Chapter VII) – as well as, “This battle with Mr. Covey was the turning-point in my career as a slave. It rekindled the few expiring embers of freedom, and revived within me a sense of my own manhood.” (Douglass, Chapter X). He had no freedom, but when he decided to fight back against the evil hand of slavery, he found it and made it his own. As a slave, he had no right to freedom, which in turn belittled his own manhood. His fight with Mr. Covey restored his sense of honor, his entitled manhood, as well as a spark of freedom he did not previously have.
In Fredrick Douglass’s a narrative, Narrative of The Life of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave, he narrates an account of his experiences in the dehumanizing institution of slavery. This American institution was strategically formatted to quench any resemblance of human dignity. Throughout, the narration of his life Fredrick Douglas, meticulously illustrates the methodical process that contributed to the perpetual state of slavery. In his narration Douglass, denounces the idea that slaves are inferior to their masters but rather, it’s the dehumanizing process that constructs this erroneous theory. Ultimately, the desires of his consciousness for knowledge ferociously leads him to mental and physical pursuit of his emancipation.
Therefore, he appears quite compelling when he attempts to bring out the connection between religion and slavery. Looking at what Douglass went through as a slave, it is unfortunate that his act of reading the Bible was considered a violation of the law. At one point, Douglass narrated that his master’s wife offered Douglass with help to read and write. However, due to “advice” given by her husband and the connection between the Bible and slavery, Douglass’s master’s wife turned against him and was now cruel and bitter towards him.
Covey. Mr. Covey was titled as a slave breaker which is a person who makes slaves obey or suffer the consequences. He would whip slaves viciously then hold church services where he would make Douglass lead hymns. He also hired a married man named Samuel Harrison to commit adultery with one of his slave women to obtain children who would later become Covey’s slaves. If he knew anything about the Bible he would know how sinful this was.
The brutality that slaves endured form their masters and from the institution of slavery caused slaves to be denied their god given rights. In the "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass," Douglass has the ability to show the psychological battle between the white slave holders and their black slaves, which is shown by Douglass' own intellectual struggles against his white slave holders. I will focus my attention on how education allowed Douglass to understand how slavery was wrong, and how the Americans saw the blacks as not equal, and only suitable for slave work. I will also contrast how Douglass' view was very similar to that of the women in antebellum America, and the role that Christianity played in his life as a slave and then
Through his diction, specifically the use of “wicked desires,” “own lusts,” and “cunning arrangement,” Douglass clearly identifies the evil within the master’s acts. Douglass logically explains why “my master was my father,” by presenting the details of what happens to the children of slave women. Within this logos-driven passage, however, is a strong emotional appeal. The factual representation of what happened in these cases is corrupt within itself, and through his wording, Douglass attacks slavery and the acts of his master. Laws themselves made slaveholders the slave’s fathers, and Douglass exposes the inhumane concept of being born into slavery.
One of the themes that the book dealt with is society and it’s handling of slavery under the guise of Christianity. Those who professed to being the most Christian i.e., the minister who lived next door, was actually the most cruel. Douglass stated adamantly that religion
Frederick Douglass tells his story of slavery and how he fought to become a free man in his book “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass”. In his narrative he uses many techniques to appeal to ethos, logos, and pathos. Using these techniques, he helps bring attention to the horrors of slavery and why there needs to be change. Even though his struggles were a few hundred years ago, some of the morals that are taught are still relevant.