Great EXpectations Essay

Submitted By corinne225
Words: 5147
Pages: 21

Slavery is one of the greatest injustices against humans in American history. Frederick Douglass, an American slave born around 1817 in Tuckahoe, Maryland, suffered the cruel and inhuman effects of slavery.Throughout The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass details his life as a slave from his earliest memories, some of which include his corrupted masters and horrific living conditions, through his successful escape to New York and settlement in Bedford, Massachusetts. Within his narrative, three determining events lead to an evolution of Douglass, from a boy and a slave who dreams of being free, to a grown, fully realized free man.
A significant moment in Douglass’s life that sparks his transformation occurs when Douglass teaches himself how to read. After living with Captain Anthony, Douglass is sent to live in Baltimore with Master Hugh Auld. For Douglass, Baltimore resembles a new beginning and he hoped that life as a slave would be better there. Fortunately, his new master, Mr. Hugh Auld, was nicer than most, rarely whipping Frederick and always giving him enough to eat. Douglass’s new mistress was also kind and she began to teach Douglass how to read. She had taught Frederick the basic ABC’s but nothing more because their reading lessons were brought to an abrupt end when Master Auld found out and ban it from ever happening again. The fact that Master Auld was immediately opposed to the idea of Frederick being able to read, helped Frederick realize that reading was the key to freedom and success. Frederick now understood that masters believed once a slave was able to read, they would soon obtain too much knowledge and attempt escape. Therefore, Master Auld wanted to keep Frederick as ignorant as possible to ensure that Frederick would not rebel. With a new kind of determination, Frederick took it upon himself to learn how to read. He befriended every little white boy he met on the streets, most of whom were very poor, and converted them into teachers. Douglass would sometimes try to bribe these boys into teaching him a new letter or word using bread, or would even trick them into giving him a lesson. With the help of these kind boys, Douglass successfully learned how to read. This major event in Douglass’s life empowers him because this was the first time Douglass finally saw beyond being a slave. His entire life, Douglass was put down time and time again,and treated worse than a wild animal. He was used to being discouraged and told that he is just an ignorant slave who is not capable of being knowledgeable. However, when Douglass learns how to read he realizes that slavery does not limit him when it comes to being intelligent and capable of succeeding.
Another important stage in Douglass’s evolution is when Douglass finally stands up to Mr. Covey and beats him. After running away and filing a complaint to Mr. Thomas Auld against Mr. Covey, which was unfortunately rejected, Douglass knew that when he returned to Mr. Covey, he was in for a brutal whipping. On Monday morning, two days after his return, Mr. Covey attempted to punish Douglass by tying him up and whipping him. However, Douglass was prepared and decided that he was not going to stand there helplessly and be whipped and for once, he was going to fight back. Frederick grabbed Mr. Covey by his throat and beat him to the ground. After this unexpected altercation between Douglass and Covey, Frederick vowed that he would never be whipped again. From that day on, Mr. Covey did not ever beat or degrade Douglass. In fact, Mr. Covey was afraid of Douglass. This shows Douglass’s evolution because this is when Frederick finally takes a stand for what he believes is right and promises himself that no matter what, he will never be put down again. This is the time when Frederick revives his self confidence and regains his once broken spirit. This was definitely Douglass’s turning point as a slave. Frederick accepted that if he was going to be a slave for