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Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave: The Evils Of Slavery

1025 words - 4 pages

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave: A Perspective on the Evils of Slavery

The institution of slavery defies the very nature of humanity, truth, and intellect from both the slave and the slave owner. Throughout the "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave; the terrible relationship between ignorance and suppression is seen time and time again with every one of his owners. Douglass is fortunate in discovering the liberating power of knowledge of which his owners are trying so diligently to conceal. With this discovery comes a "new conception" of just how evil the institution of slavery is, causing Douglass to consider the pursuit of this powerful tool. To further complicate his battle against ignorance, Douglass's pathway to enlightenment and ultimately freedom leads him to discover the many other cruel methods that his suppressors use to break the essential and most important component of humanity, the soul.

The practice of turning people into slaves can almost be looked at as evil science that begins its manipulations on what humans are most familiar with from the start, physical suffering. Douglass speaks of this early on and makes known that it is an ever-present tool used by his suppressors. Douglass was lucky not to be whipped very often by his early masters, but mentions that he, like many other young lave children, always suffered from the "hunger and cold" (Lauter 1773). Especially during his early years on Colonel Lloyd's plantation, his narration recalls many accounts of whipping, killing, and torture that he observed and heard of on the plantation. Sadly, he begins to notice and even accept common traits possessed by his overseers. For example, one of the coldest and cruelest overseers of the plantation is described as a "first rate" overseer (Lauter 1770). In his account, Douglass further explains how this overseer is the most dreaded of the slaves. This description of the overseer and others helps to illustrate the overseer's primary function as dehumanizing the slaves from the start and throughout their lives.

As well as weakening the slaves with physical attacks, another target for their means of control is with separation. This was looked at by the slaves as the worst form of punishment. From the start of the Narrative, Douglass mentions that he never saw his mother more than four or five times. Even when he was in St. Micheal's prison after his plot to escape was discovered, his main worry wasn't that he wouldn't be free, but that he was separated from his fellow slaves and friends.

Of all the notrosities involved in the suppression of a human race, quite possibly the greatest separation that many of the slaves suffered was the separation of education from their minds. William Lloyd Garrison put it eloquently when he stated that slavery ". . . has a natural, an inevitable tendency to brutalize every...

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