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Author Intentions In The Life And Times Of Frederick Douglass And Day Star

936 words - 4 pages

In his autobiographical publication The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Douglass takes an intentionalist approach, ensuring that the implied intentions of the author dictate the plot of the story. Douglass's voice echoes through his protagonist, reflecting the message he is trying to convey, asserting a strong sense of authority. As a leader in the abolitionist movement Douglass uses the power of prose to break free from the shackles of slavery, writing himself into existence, and voicing his thought after years of oppression. The power of being able to tell his story the way he wants it to be told is liberating in itself, symbolizing the freedom from oppression African Americans longed after for years. Douglass's use of an autobiographical narrative not only helps give readers insight into his experiences through a firsthand account, but it also helps an author struggling to retain an identity recollect his past and form a sense of self. Rita Dove uses a contrasting approach in her poem "DayStar", in which a third person narrative implicates the lessened value of the central figure, the author uses her authority to diminish the protagonists sense of self. The third person narrative strips the protagonist of any authority over being able to recount their own story, leaving the reader to make inferences based on an external perspective. The loss of narrative authority reflects the characterization of the protagonist and the tensions expressed with her caregiver role. Through the use of literary devices and narrative technique, Both, Frederick Douglass and Rita Dove are able to establish a sense of liberation or oppression within their protagonists.
As a writer Frederick Douglass uses the power of the pen to raise awareness in regards to the detrimental impact of slavery, helping push the agenda of the abolitionist movement. After years of enslavement Douglass is able to compile a testament of the hardships him and his people suffered through slavery. He illustrates how the pressures of oppression slowly breaks down the individual, dehumanizing them, ridding them of any identity they may possess. The fading of one's true identity can be attributed to the demoralizing aspect of serving merely as a tool at the disposal of your master. Douglass expresses this grievance of being depicted as property: "It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceased to be a man.” ( Douglass 99) The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 prompts Douglass to not only delve into his personal experience with slavery, but also recollect his identity, gathering a sense of self. His narrative gives him a voice, a sense of...

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