Frederick Douglass: View of Freedom Essay

Submitted By michellejohnson126
Words: 1077
Pages: 5

Frederick Douglass View of Freedom Freedom by definition is, “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action” (Freedom). As a young slave, Frederick Douglass did not see freedom this way; In fact, he did not see freedom as anything at all. When slaves were born, they were completely ignorant to the world outside of plantation work. Slave masters tried to keep it this way so their slaves would stay obedient and content with their way of life. Over time, Douglass realized how much freedom was being taken away from himself and other slaves. He explains his revelations throughout his narrative as well as showing his transition from a slave to a free man. Douglass’ starts off his narrative by explaining how he did not know his exact age, only an estimate (Douglass, 1). This is the first glimpse the reader gets into the lack of knowledge and freedom for slaves. The only education Douglass received at this point in his life were the things he would see and hear throughout the day. He begins to understand that the life of a slave is demeaning when he hears groups of slaves singing songs. He comes to this conclusion because while they are singing he realizes how sad they sound. Douglass writes, “To those songs I trace my first glimmering conception of the dehumanizing character of slavery” (Douglass, 9). Around the age of six or seven, Douglass learned that he was being taken to a new plantation home in Baltimore, Maryland. At this home, Douglass began to understand more about freedom and how slavery not only effects the slaves but the owners as well. When Douglass first arrived to the new home, he noticed there was a difference in how his mistress, Sophia Auld treated him. Douglass described her as, “a woman of the kindest heart and finest feelings” (Douglass 19). She taught him the alphabet and how to spell a few three to four letter words, but once Mr. Auld found out what she was doing it, he made her stop. He explained to her that educating a slave would make them unhappy and unable to be managed. When Douglass heard Mr. Auld tell this to Mrs. Auld he finally realized the manipulation slave owners would use on slaves. They kept them from everything that could expose slaves to the knowledge of freedom so they could keep their plantations running smoothly with the work of slaves. Soon after this, Mrs. Auld began to treat Douglass completely different. She became mean and spoke words of hate that were degrading to the slaves. By giving an account about the change in Mrs. Auld’s behavior, Douglass shows how slavery adversely effects the slave owners as well as the slaves. It turns people, like Mrs. Auld, who treat everyone equally and with respect into hateful individuals. Douglass did not let the Auld’s keep him from learning to read and write. He traded bread for reading lessons with poor white boys and was able to obtain literacy. With this new gift he was able to learn about slavery from its roots. When Douglass was around the age of twelve he read a book called the “Columbian Orator”. This book gave Douglass more of an insight to the dehumanization of slavery, but brought him a painful difficulty. He finally understood how bad of a life he had being enslaved. He began to think of his ability to read and write as a curse and envied his fellow-slaves for their stupidity (Douglass 24). Despite feeling depressed, he kept educating himself more and more because he knew it was the only way he could ever truly be free. Douglass was sent to another plantation where he had to do plantation work for the first time. He was whipped and beaten numerous times by his new master Mr. Covey. It was at this plantation that Douglass took a stand for his freedom for the first time. After experiencing another beating, Douglass fled from the plantation. He returned to a seemingly Covey, so he thought he avoided punishment. The next day Covey came into the stable where Douglass was and tried to beat him, but Douglass…