Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass - Essay Example

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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass Born a slave on the eastern shore of Maryland, Frederick Douglas was one of the most notable black American leaders of the abolitionist movement. As most slaves were not free, uneducated and unaware of their civil rights, Douglas came forth to challenge the injustice…
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Download file to see previous pages It was Douglas’ firm belief in his abilities that empowered him to act as a revolutionary activist, who then played a key role in the abolitionist movement. The hard earned self-education also enabled Douglass to write his remarkable autobiography ‘Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave’, which details various aspects of his life as a slave and immorality of slavery itself. His escape from slavery was a major event narrated in his book that further determined the course of his life. In order to understand Douglas fight against slavery, it is important to identify the key motivations behind his struggle that will probably address how the slave became a citizen. Earlier in the story, Douglas describes a series of events in which he witnessed some acts of cruel brutality against fellow slaves in his early age. His mother passed away when he was seven but felt nothing difficult due to their forced separation a lot earlier. He saw Aunt Hester’s being cruelly whipped by his master till she was covered with blood. This event introduced him to the real and horrible character of slavery. In his own words, "it was the first of a long series of such outrages, of which I was doomed to be a witness and a participant. It struck me with awful force. It was the blood-stained gate, the entrance to the hell of slavery, through which I was about to pass. It was a most terrible spectacle" (Douglas, 1996). Douglas later describes of himself as being deeply affected by the singing of slaves in detail. He also narrates several events that left him with an immense hatred of slavery, including the brutal murder of Demby at the hands of Gore. Such brutal and inhumane occurrences motivated in him the utmost desire to escape from slavery. The prime event that helped him to determine his pathway and provoked in him the desire to gain knowledge occurred after he was removed from Colonel Lloyd's plantation to Baltimore, for serving the son of Hugh and Sophia Auld. It was here that he discovered the joy of learning when Sophia Auld taught him how to read a word using alphabets. However, Hugh Auld disliked his wife's efforts and forbade her by saying that, "If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master - to do as he is told to do. Learning will spoil the best nigger in the world. Now if you teach that nigger how to read, there would be no keeping him" (Douglas, 1996). These words deeply convinced Douglas that learning was the pathway leading to ultimate freedom of a slave. After being sent back to the country from Baltimore, Douglas was eventually lent to Edward Covey for a year. Mr. Covey fed him enough food to eat but often whipped him for his awkwardness. Covey was known to be a slave-breaker and his cruel treatment crushed his strong spirit. One day, when Covey tried to tie him up, he strongly resisted and fought back. Douglas regards his fight with Covey and his surprising cowardly response as one of the major turning points in his slave career. According to him, "it rekindled the few expiring embers of freedom, and revived within me a sense of my own manhood. It recalled the departed self-confidence, and inspired me again with a determination to be free" (Douglas, 1996). He became confident in his belief that no matter how long he remains a slave, he will get freedom eventually. He also planned to escape with some fellow ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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