Frederick Douglass Blissful Ignorance Analysis

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Deliverance from Blissful Ignorance
With how readily available reading material is in today’s society and just how much our daily lives are saturated with text, it is easy to take our literacy for granted. For slaves like Frederick Douglass, learning to read was a tremendous challenge and did not always give the results they hoped for. In the Narrative, Douglass learns to read gaining clarity and understanding of many things, such as his standing in the world. It opened his mind to some of the truths of this world, however, not all truths are pleasant. Many people, Douglass included, have found themselves depressed, to varying levels, when the veil of ignorance has been lifted from their face and they are forced to accept the truth about the
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Douglass was not exempted from this; and perhaps due to his intelligence and young age at the time, he suffered great depression and suicidal thoughts. All this mental suffering originated from learning about exactly what freedom is and that he would never have it since he was a slave for life. Here Douglass reveals in his own words the degree of depression understanding his condition made him suffer: “I often found myself regretting my own existence, and wishing myself dead; and but for the hope of being free, I have no doubt but that I should have killed myself, or done something for which I should have been killed.” (40) By saying that he “regretted my own existence, and wished myself dead”, Douglass reveals to the reader that he would have preferred never to have been born, to having been born in slavery divested of any probable chance at freedom. To Douglass the hope of gaining freedom, no matter how slight, was the only thing keeping him going. That without freedom, without liberty, life was not worth living. That he would rather have done something the slaveholders deemed punishable by death, to go out in defiance, then to live knowing there was no chance at freedom. The Theravada Buddhist monk, Bhante Henepola Gunaratana said,…show more content…
Douglass describes it as being good for his “soul”, meaning that the raw emotions he felt were so positive that they helped nourish the very core of his being, the thing that makes him who he is. That teaching his fellow-slaves was the most delightful thing he has ever done, even after he escaped and became free, there was nothing that could compare. Douglass was given the satisfaction and glee of knowing that at least some of his fellow-slaves learned to read, that they too might have this feeling of exuberance in teaching their own friends. So, the spread of knowledge to his brethren was not only good for Douglass and them, it was also good for all who were in bondage, for, the more slaves that educate themselves, the more slaves there are that will have a chance at escaping from bondage. In my opinion though, the best evidence that learning to read was good for Douglass, is this book itself. This book had a great impact on the people of the North and even now is being continuously reprinted. It was of great help in showing the people of the North just what slavery was really like and did untold amounts of good. This book is a classic, a classic that may never have been written if Douglass did not work so hard to learn to read and write. Even now, my writing of this
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