Frederick Douglass Moral Development

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The history of slaves was a psychological and physical torture to the mind of a slave and of a master. In his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass writes about his personal experience. He was born into slavery and finally succeeds in running away to the North where slavery is illegal. Kohlberg’s six stages of moral development help explain the behavior of people. Several characters in Douglass’ book show one good example of Kohlberg’s six stages. Kohlberg's third stage of human development fits exactly one of Douglass’ characters, Mrs. Auld, who is by Kohlberg’s definition a “good girl” because she does as told even if it's wrong. Mr. Covey, another one of Douglass’ characters, perfectly fits stage two due…show more content…
Covey, and this stage is called “naively egoistic orientation.” Kohlberg writes that this person does things, “ ...based on what satisfies one’s own need first… you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”(1). No matter what the truth is, keeping face is always more important to someone in this stage. Douglass, after winning the fight with Mr. Covey, states, “He only can understand the deep satisfaction which I experienced, who has himself repelled by force the bloody hand of slavery”(82). This shows how Mr. Covey only wants his own needs fulfilled. It angers him when he doesn’t get his way. Mr. Covey is by far the weakest character in this book because he relies to much on the false power of the masters of the slaves and the harsh power of a whip. His need for power is problematic due to the fact that it makes slaves, who he already has power over, more vulnerable to his…show more content…
This problematic because it creates an unstable environment for a child to be born into. Fearing of being whipped for doing wrong instead of learning by being told what is the line between good and wrong at a young age can be traumatizing for a child. Douglass writes from one of his many traumatizing childhood memories, “I was so terrified and horror-stricken at the sight, that I hid myself in a closet, and dared not venture out till long after the bloody transaction was over. I expected it would be my turn next” (24). Douglass is at stage one because he fears being punished the same way his aunt is punished. As a child, punishment is a way we are introduced to good and bad. In slavery, it’s used to make slaves submit to a “master,” but in reality it’s used to create fear in those who are viewing this punishment as a warning of what could happen if they decide to get out of line. Douglass uses vivid description of his childhood to show that children are not hit if they learn very fast to fear overseers and
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