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Mary Shelley and Frederick Douglass - Essay Example

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Mary Shelley and Frederick Douglass represent common themes in their books, Frankenstein and Narrative of Life respectively. Some of the themes are obvious while others are subtle. The most striking theme is the idea of knowledge and ignorance. During Shelley’s time, knowledge of science and technology significantly changed several traditional perceptions and man’s relationship with the creator…
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Mary Shelley and Frederick Douglass
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"Mary Shelley and Frederick Douglass"

Download file to see previous pages Douglass’ narrative is set in the traditional American society when slavery was at its peak. His narrative explains the strategies that the slave owners apply to maintain slavery, and exhibit it as a normal practice. The slave owners always made sure that the slaves were ignorant, and they were barred from seeking any formal education. This paper compares and contrasts how Shelley and Douglass portray the importance of education to an individual’s identity. Mary Shelley portrays education as a vital tool for human development. However, the rush to acquire and apply certain knowledge can cause harm to an individual or the whole society. Shelley’s book is set in the late Eighteenth Century when the industrial revolution was rapidly gaining fame. Advancements in the industrial revolution were mainly facilitated by the knowledge of science and technology. Several people rushed to acquire and apply this knowledge without predetermining their impacts in the societies and families. Shelley presents Frankenstein as a character who had uncontrollable desire to acquire science knowledge. He even attempts to apply this knowledge to pursue some ideas that were beyond nature and human limits (Shelley 54). He successfully managed to create a monster, which turned to be a menace to society. The whole society rejected this monster, not only because of its ugly appearance, but also due to the manner in which it was created. It was developed from strange chemicals and a mixture of stolen body parts. The society directed Frankenstein to destroy this monster due to the impacts it had on society and families. For instance, the monster made Frankenstein himself to lose his beloved ones (Shelley 152). Douglass’s narrative portrays how lack of knowledge can facilitate vices such as slavery. Slave owners of the Eighteenth Century encouraged and maintained slavery by keeping their slaves ignorant (Douglass 38). Most people believed that slavery was a natural act, during the period when the book was written. Everybody was aware that blacks were ignorant, and they could not participate in making formal decision regarding social matters, they were thus kept as workers for their owners. The whites denied blacks the chance to acquire basic knowledge such as their paternity and date of birth (Douglass 50). Lack of knowledge denies the children their natural sense of individual identity. Slave owners are aware that knowledge will give the children their sense of self-capability and sufficiency, and this will make them question the rights of whites to hold them as slaves. This is the fact that made the Southern slave-owners control slavery as the rest of the American societies followed. The slaves cannot write, and this means that they cannot express their grievances formally. Both Shelley and Douglass portray knowledge as an essential tool that is required for human development. However, Shelley expresses science knowledge of Eighteenth Century as a dangerous tool. Frankenstein rushed to acquire and apply science knowledge, and the result was a monster. Science knowledge has negative impacts in the life of Frankenstein. First, the monster makes him lose all his beloved ones; secondly, he gets mental torture every time as he pursues the monster to destroy it; and finally, he dies due to depression. Contrary to Douglass ideas, acquisition of knowledge makes Frankenstein become a slave of his own work (monster). He dreams of “a new species which would bless me as its creator and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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