Analysis Of Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass

1363 Words6 Pages
The late motivational speaker and author, Wayne Dyer, once said, “freedom means you are unobstructed in living your life as you choose. Anything less is a form of slavery”. This is one of the ideas that is explored in Frederick Douglass 's autobiographical novel, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. He tells the story of his life as a slave up until he escapes to New York City. The narrative is set in the perspective of Frederick as a slave and therefore he is able to go into grave detail giving the reader a sense of being present at this time. Douglass also describes using vivid imagery how slavery is an institution based on a hierarchy of power that works slaves so hard, they lose themselves along the way. Under these conditions it…show more content…
Frederick Douglass has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge that is not very common among the slaves, but through this hierarchical system this thirst is beat out of him. As Douglass is talking about all the harsh conditions that Mr. Covey has his slaves withstand, Douglass utters “Mr. Covey succeeded in breaking me. I was broken in body, soul and spirit. My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died; the dark knight of slavery closed upon me; and behold a man transformed me into a brute!” (38). Douglass’ “natural elasticity” being crushed shows that not only is Mr. Covey successful in physically breaking Douglass far past the point of exhaustion, but he is also able to destroy the passion he had for reading and learning. Frederick no longer has this flexibility or “elasticity” of adjusting to where ever he is sent while staying true to his own morals and himself. The identity that he loses turns him into a slave that no different than the rest. He knows that in order to escape slavery, he must learn how to read and write; however if he no longer has this excitement and the resolve to learn, then he will never escape slavery. As Douglass says “the dark knight of slavery closed in upon me,” revealing to the reader the maliciousness of practice of slavery and why it has such a deleterious effect on the formation of slaves’ identities. By working the slaves to the point that working all day and with minimal rest is ingrained into their minds, the slaves not only lose a sense of who they are, but also become less of
Open Document