Slavery In his three narratives, and his numerous articles, speeches, and letters, Douglass vigorously argued against slavery. He sought to demonstrate that it was cruel, unnatural, ungodly, immoral, and unjust. Civil War drew closer, he expanded his arguments in many speeches, editorials, and in his second autobiography, My Bondage and My Freedom.
Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.
At the time Douglass was writing, many people believed that slavery was a natural state of being. They believed that blacks were inherently incapable of participating in civil society and thus should be kept as workers for whites. The Narrative explains the strategies and procedures by which whites gain and keep power over blacks from their birth onward.
Slave owners keep slaves ignorant of basic facts about themselves, such as their birth date or their paternity. This enforced ignorance robs children of their natural sense of individual identity.
Slaveholders understand that literacy would lead slaves to question the right of whites to keep slaves. Finally, by keeping slaves illiterate, Southern slaveholders maintain control over what the rest of America knows about slavery.
If slaves cannot write, their side of the slavery story cannot be told. Wendell Phillips makes this point in his prefatory letter to the Narrative. Knowledge as the Path to Freedom Just as slave owners keep men and women as slaves by depriving them of knowledge and education, slaves must seek knowledge and education in order to pursue freedom.
It is from Hugh Auld that Douglass learns this notion that knowledge must be the way to freedom, as Auld forbids his wife to teach Douglass how to read and write because education ruins slaves.
Douglass sees that Auld has unwittingly revealed the strategy by which whites manage to keep blacks as slaves and by which blacks might free themselves. Doug-lass presents his own self-education as the primary means by which he is able to free himself, and as his greatest tool to work for the freedom of all slaves.
Though Douglass himself gains his freedom in part by virtue of his self-education, he does not oversimplify this connection. Douglass has no illusions that knowledge automatically renders slaves free. Knowledge helps slaves to articulate the injustice of slavery to themselves and others, and helps them to recognize themselves as men rather than slaves.
Rather than provide immediate freedom, this awakened consciousness brings suffering, as Hugh Auld predicts. Once slaves are able to articulate the injustice of slavery, they come to loathe their masters, but still cannot physically escape without meeting great danger.
With this theme, Douglass completes his overarching depiction of slavery as unnatural for all involved. Douglass describes typical behavior patterns of slaveholders to depict the damaging effects of slavery. He recounts how many slave-owning men have been tempted to adultery and rape, fathering children with their female slaves.
In other instances, slave owners such as Thomas Auld develop a perverted religious sense to remain blind to the sins they commit in their own home.
The irresponsible power of slaveholding transforms Sophia from an idealistic woman to a demon. By showing the detrimental effects of slaveholding on Thomas Auld, Sophia Auld, and others, Douglass implies that slavery should be outlawed for the greater good of all society.
Slaveholding as a Perversion of Christianity Over the course of the Narrative, Douglass develops a distinction between true Christianity and false Christianity. To strike this distinction, Douglass points to the basic contradiction between the charitable, peaceful tenets of Christianity and the violent, immoral actions of slaveholders.The Life And Work Of Frederick Douglass Frederick Douglass's writings reflected many American views that were influenced by national division.
Douglass was a very successful. Frederick Douglass's writings reflected many American views that were influencedby national division. Douglass was a very successful abolitionist who changed America'sviews of slavery through his writings and actions.
Frederick Douglass /5(1). “Frederick Douglass’s writings reflected many American views that were influenced by national division.
Douglass was a very successful abolitionist who changed America’s views of slavery through his writings and actions. Oct 27, · During these meetings, he was exposed to the writings of abolitionist and journalist William Lloyd Garrison.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. In it, he wrote. From: The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, (Five volumes) by Philip S.
Foner International Publishers (Included on this web site by kind permission of the publishers). Frederick Douglass's writings reflected many American views that were influenced by national division. Douglass was a very successful abolitionist who changed America's views of slavery through his writings and actions/5(7).