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Equiano Vs. Douglass Essay

1083 words - 5 pages

Farming and building houses on plantations in extreme heat from the beating sun without water does not sound enticing to anyone with the modern technological amenities available in today's world. However, slaves all around the world were subjected to harsh treatment and grueling tasks like these throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. As a way of spreading accounts of these miserable lifestyles, slaves Frederick Douglass and Olaudah Equiano documented their horrifying experiences and published accounts of them. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano highlight the cruelty towards slaves during the era of realism. Although these autobiographies contain many similarities in the manner of their composure, including abolitionist motives and a focus on the separation of families, the dissimilar lives of Equiano and Douglass expose the readers to the brutality of slavery in a multitude of situations.
Both Equiano and Douglass were strong advocates for the abolition of slavery throughout their lives. Although these slaves were living in different areas of the world, they both experienced inhumane treatment from whites. As a result, they both knew that bondage needed to end or otherwise the whites would take absolute control of the black society in the future. Equiano strongly develops an argument that abolition would be a worldwide benefit. He claims, “The abolition of slavery would be in reality an universal good. Tortures, murder, and every other imaginable barbarity and iniquity are practised [sic] upon the poor slaves with impunity” (156). These statements present his view of enslavement, but also explain the anguish that slaves at the time were experiencing. Frederick Douglass’ narrative describes the rebellious acts of slaves that made progress towards abolition. Douglass states, “If a slave ran away and succeeded in getting clear, or if a slave killed his master, set fire to a barn, or did any thing [sic] very wrong in the mind of a slaveholder, it was spoken of as the fruit of abolition” (36). This shows that they were willing to act against their owners in order to gain freedom. As these abolitionist ideas spread, slaves globally worked diligently towards gaining liberty and eventually earned their independence.
Another prominent similarity in the works of Equiano and Douglass is the belief that separation from family is the worst consequence of slavery. Slaves experienced countless hardships, and unfortunately many were unable to go through them with their relatives. Equiano describes his experience of being separated from his family in Chapter II of his story. According to his account, “The next day proved a day of greater sorrow than I had yet experienced; for my sister and I were then separated, while we lay clasped in each other’s arms (29). Earlier, the Equiano siblings had been separated from their parents, which was overwhelming. However, separation from his sister...

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