Frederick Douglass' Use of Literacy

This study will examine the ways in which Frederick Douglass used education and literacy to gain and express his freedom in his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. The opening pages of Douglass' autobiography include no sign of freedom. Slaves have their freedom stripped from them by the horrors of slavery, and slaveowners commit those horrors. An essential part of being a free human being, for Douglass, involves education, literacy and self-awareness. The slave with no education, no awareness of his or her position, no ability to read the thoughts of others, and no hope for the future is not fully a human being. The slaveholders kept the slaves uneducated because that made controlling them easier. Literate and free-thinking individuals are harder to control than a group of frightened illiterates whose only reality is that imposed by the slaveholders.

The beginning of Douglass' verbal education is not in books but in slave songs, songs which Douglass says "breathed the prayer and complaint of souls boiling over with the bitterest anguish . . . To those songs I trace my first glimmering conception of the dehumanizing character of slavery" (58). The awareness that slavery is an abomination against God and humanity obviously leads to Douglass' awareness of his own terrible circumstances. At that point, Douglass feels the longing for freedom, although his desire is still limited by his powerlessness.



Related Essays

CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT VS. WOMEN'S RIGHTS MOVEMENT .... the Union lines and authorized their .... as laborers. .... advocated greater assertiveness such as Frederick Douglass, others who .... Douglass called for the end of all .... (7476 30 )

Native Son .... writers as William Wells Brown, Frederick Douglass, Frances Harper .... of fugitive slave narratives as Douglass, to name .... Yet despite this .... of the terminology of .... (10529 42 )

Category: History - F
Common Topics
Click Here to Get Instant Access to over 32,000 Professionally Written Papers!!!
Join Now  
Saved Papers  
Save your essays here so you can locate them quickly!
"Great site, I got a lot of new ideas I would have never thought of before."
Nate A.
"I love this site!!!"
Marie H.
"Thank you for making such a high quality site! Your papers are the best I have seen around"
Debbie B.
"Your site was very helpful and gave me the details I needed in order to complete my essay!!!"
Mike F.
"This site is an excellent vehicle for quick referrences. Thanks a bunch!"
Carla T.
Copyright © 2007 - 2014 Lots of Essays. All Rights Reserved. DMCA