Narrative of Frederick Douglass Slavery Essay

Pages: 4 (1350 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Black Studies


Without family connections, they would at least receive similar treatments in other households, whereas in the family household, the wife's negative feelings caused harsher treatment. Ironically, the personal, human feelings involved in these adulterous relationships and the resulting children caused further inhumanity and cruelty among slave owners.

In his account of the various slave owners to which he belonged during his short life, Douglass also recounts that slave ownership has a corrupting influence even on those who were kind-hearted by nature. He mentions in this regard the wife of Mr. Auld, a slave owner who brought him away from the plantations to work in the city. He mentions the "fatal poison of irresponsible power" that caused her to change from a kind to harsh disposition towards himself and the other slaves she owned with her husband.

Later, he was sold again to Mr. Covey, with whom he returned to the country as a farm hand. This man was particularly brutal. In terms of dehumanization, Covey was a particularly interesting specimen. He not only almost succeeds in completely breaking Douglass's spirit, but deceives himself to such an extent that he professes belief in a merciful and just God even while brutalizing his slaves to the point of death. This kind of self-deception shows that Covey is not only inhuman in his treatment of his slaves, but also deceives himself to such an extent that he is not even aware of his inhumanity.

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For both slaves and owners, the slavery institution created a status quo by which both fulfilled their roles as abusers and abused, with little hope for either to escape unless a conscious effort was made to do so. This is what Douglass did.

Douglass's first awareness of the possibility of freedom came in the form of Mrs. Auld, who attempted to teach him some reading and writing before herself falling victim to the dehumanizing effects of the slavery institution. Her husband forbids her to continue this practice, claiming that teaching a slave to read and write would cause no more than great unhappiness for the slave, since he or she would be aware of more possibilities than the life of the slave.

TOPIC: Essay on Narrative of Frederick Douglass Slavery Assignment

For Douglass, the idea of freedom held the promise not only of physical escape from the brutality that was the institution. It was also intellectual and spiritual freedom, where Douglass as individual could be valued and value himself as a human being, where he could create the potential of a better life, and where he could harbor hope.

The fact that Douglass understood education to be a way of escaping his circumstances creates for him a pathway, but does not in any way make it easy for him. Since his masters would no longer teach him, Douglass makes friends with the young white children on their way to school and asks them to give him lessons. He supplements this with teaching himself by copying and reading as much as he can. An unfortunate side-effect is that Douglass becomes deeply unhappy to the extent of detesting his new intellect. It is in this frame of mind that he is sold to Covey and nearly loses the dream of freedom.

He is not, however, completely broken. He begins to resist Covey and ultimately, fearing for his life if he stayed, escapes the brutal master to become an intellectual, write his story, and fight for the freedom of other unfortunates in his position.

Covey then obtains freedom from the cruelty of his former owners by nothing more than a desire to be free from the hopelessness of lifelong slavery. First his intellect and second his drive for survival combine to obtain for him a place in a world where he was born into slavery but created for himself both intellectual and physical freedom.

Reading Douglass's story today is a brutal but inspiring experience. He is perhaps symbolic of the spirit that will not bend even to the harshest conditions. As a result, the ultimate outcome is that he… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Narrative of Frederick Douglass Slavery" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Narrative of Frederick Douglass Slavery.  (2012, November 22).  Retrieved December 1, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Narrative of Frederick Douglass Slavery."  22 November 2012.  Web.  1 December 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Narrative of Frederick Douglass Slavery."  November 22, 2012.  Accessed December 1, 2021.