Frederick Douglass: Man With a Mission Thesis

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Frederick Douglass: Man with a Mission

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While Frederick Douglass is most well-known for his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, he is much more valuable to American history because he was much more than a writer. Douglass became one of the most significant names associated with the abolitionist movement that helped move slaves toward freedom. Born a slave in 1818, Douglass refused to live the life that others deemed fit for him. He did not lose his instinctive notion that all men were equal despite the color of their skin. He did not give up even though he faced terrible adversity at times. Instead, he decided to move in a direction that at least held the promise of freedom. Frederick's narrative is certainly significant in its own right because it demonstrates the strength of one man as well as the power of a dream. Douglass was determined to be something more than a slave and he achieved this goal on many levels. He taught himself to read and write and then led others to do the same. He was an outspoken abolitionist, desperately seeking to free every man that was treated as a slave. Frederick Douglass is a hero for many reasons -- he fought for freedom by taking small and seemingly insignificant steps. He literally fought for his freedom and served as a role model for those that felt they could fight for their freedom as well. Douglass' narrative is still popular today because it resonates with the heart of the aspect of the human spirit that yearns to be free.

TOPIC: Thesis on Frederick Douglass: Man With a Mission While Assignment

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is not only inspirational but instructive because Douglass took one of the worst circumstances and turned them around. Every day he made small steps toward his goal and he finally realized his dream after hard work and dedication. The fact that he learned to read and write alone is monumental when we look at his place in life. Yet, he manages to find his identity through his words and, as a result, he inspires others to do the same. Douglass was lucky in that he did not allow himself to fall victim to negative self-talk. Instead, he fought everyday for freedom. Certainly, there were days when he felt like giving up or perhaps he felt as though he was getting nowhere but the point is that amid these distractions, he continued with his dream. What Douglass learned was that an incredible amount of self-confidence comes from learning to read and write and this empowers people to do more for their cause. Douglass suddenly had another way to tell history and it was a way in which his story could reach hundreds and thousands of people that we would otherwise never meet. Douglass' story is significant because it is one of triumph. Freedom began as a dream but it became a reality and that reality touched many lives of many slaves. The book is also significant because it is a form of "protest literature" (Piano). Doreen Piano asserts that the novel is unique in that it is not only n amazing story, and a piece of protest literature but it is successfully convinces us that Douglass has been "transformed and is no longer a slave" (Piano). Douglass inspires this way while reaching different audiences. Piano notes that Douglass' ability to capture and inpire the audience stems from the fact that he creates a "complex narrative structure with two narrating I's within the text" (Piano). One of the I's is the former slave, which is identified in the first hald of the book's title and the second I is the free man, identified in the second half of the book's title. These elements make the recipe for a great inspirational story for any reader.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is significant because it is written from a first person, straightforward perspective. Douglass does not attempt to wring emotion from the reader as much as he want to convey his story. Through a style that is not contrived, Douglass reveals the very horrors of slavery from a first-hand account. His accounts are real and extremely compelling in regard to the slave experience. Douglass opens our eyes with fact not fiction. For example, he tells us that under Mr. Thomas, himself and the others were "nearly perishing with hunger, when food in abundance lay mouldering in the safe and smoke-house, and our pious mistress and her husband would kneel every morning, and pray that God would bless them in blanket and store!" (Douglass 96). This is what we are faced with as we read the account and while it might be difficult, it is necessary to understand what Douglass endured. Douglass' story relates the horrid conditions of slavery from a personal perspective to us. Douglass allows us to see and feel what he experienced at the hand of those that thought they were better than him and expected him to serve their every desire. Piano asserts that slave owners often "withheld information from slaves in order to keep them from having a basic understanding of themselves as human beings. Such insights lend credibility and power to his narrative at the same time that they reveal his own coming into being as a person" (Piano ). This is true in the various experiences Douglass had with his owners. None of them wanted the slave to be educated and Mrs. Auld, who attempted to teach Douglass to read, was admonished by her husband for doing so and was forced to stop teaching him. Mr. Auld, Mr. Covey, and Mr. Gore are essential characters in the story because they become the impetus of Douglass' desire to be free. Mr. Auld has no respect for his slaves, telling his wife that an education "would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master. As to himself, it could do him no good, but a great deal of harm. It would make him disoriented and unhappy" (Douglass 78). Mr. Gore beat his slaves on a regular basis and we are told that he ad no respect for them as human beings. Mr. Gore was ruthless and taught Douglass how he expected slaves to behave. Mr. Covey was equally bad, forcing his slaves to work long hours and deplorable conditions. Douglass writes that after working the long hours for Covey, he was "broken in body, soul, and spirit" (105). Douglass endured what he could without losing hope and heart. He finally decides to fight Mr. Covey and this ignites the "few expiring embers of freedom" (113) in Douglass. This event is pivotal because Douglass realizes that he can fight back and make a difference. He writes, "The gratification afforded by the triumph was a full compensation for whatever might follow, even death itself" (113). In addition, his interaction releases him from the "tomb of slavery" (113) and causes him to understand that while he was a "slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact" (113). Proudly, he states, "You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man" (107). Douglass' narrative is not just a story about a slave -- it is a story about a slave that fights for his freedom and finally tastes that freedom after a long, hard battle with oppression.

Life did not improve for Douglass after Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. In fact, things worsened to the point that Douglass fled to Britain for fear of being recaptured. Russell Hively writes that Douglass lectured in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales for two years while he was overseas. This illustrates his passion for what he believed in. Douglass was able to work his passion for freedom into every aspect of his life and he was not afraid of speaking his mind wherever he went. In addition to speaking overseas, he "corresponded with abolitionist newspapers in America" (Hively) in hope o spreading the word back home. Interestingly, those corresponding on behalf of Douglass discovered the fact that Douglass' former owner would buy Douglass' freedom for $750. This action did occur and Douglass returned to American in 1847 as a free man. After he returned, he pursued other avenues of expression and started a newspaper, The North Star. The paper was "dedicated to 'Universal Emancipation'" (Hively) and was "known as a good journalistic paper working for the abolition of slavery by using peaceful political methods" (Hively). Douglass was determined to speak out against slavery and for the significance of man. Things did improve for Douglass as time went by but one thing is certain -- he never stopped fighting for the freedom of every slave. He wanted everyone to know that freedom was not only just but necessary for all so that life might be experienced to the fullest. Douglass' life is the epitome of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Frederick Douglass: Man With a Mission.  (2009, April 21).  Retrieved December 1, 2021, from

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"Frederick Douglass: Man With a Mission."  21 April 2009.  Web.  1 December 2021. <>.

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"Frederick Douglass: Man With a Mission."  April 21, 2009.  Accessed December 1, 2021.