How The Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass Dehumanize

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Individuals can empathize and grow from learning from the past experiences of others. The pre-civil war era in United States was a time where many humans were mistreated both psychologically and physically. Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave gives readers the opportunity to understand exactly how America’s history shaped modern-day social norms and behaviors. Douglass’ personal account not only positively influenced the abolitionist movement, but raised questions of morality and human rights. The story of Frederick Douglass’ life shows exactly the repercussions of humans unjustly mistreating other humans. It is natural human tendency to act in one’s own self-interest, and the era where slavery …show more content…

Masters, or the so-called oppressors, dehumanized themselves through their own actions as seen when Douglass says, “They never knew when they were safe from punishment. They were frequently whipped when least deserving, and escaped whipping when most deserving it” (326). This quote indicates that masters believed that owning slaves was like a game of power. As seen in the text, they played mind games on their slaves. Lloyd, the oppressor in this example, reinforces aggressive behavior and negative human qualities in his own mind by pursuing actions like these. One can infer that this reinforcement deprives Lloyd and masters alike of their sense of compassion, empathy and sympathy for others. The above qualities are what make humans human. The various forms of oppression dehumanize the oppressed and even the oppressors, however dehumanization is a learned behavior when Douglass states, “Why his career was so short, I do not know, but suppose he lacked the necessary severity to suit Colonel Lloyd” (329). This text suggests that the previous overseer, Hopkins, was fired because he did not possess certain qualities of an oppressor. Due to not meeting the standards of Colonel Lloyd, Lloyd may have had “little” compassion for the slaves. This is evidence that dehumanization is learned from others because Hopkins was not innately born to suit the needs of a slave owner. In addition, the interactions between Douglass and the Aulds illustrate this concept, “Just at this point of my progress, Mr. Auld found out what was going on, and at once forbade Mrs. Auld to instruct me further, telling her among other things, that it was unlawful, as well as unsafe, to teach a slave to read” (338). Not only does this text show that Mrs. Auld originally was not mistreating other humans, but it is a turning point in the life of Mrs. Auld. This text

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