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Essay on Oppression and Resistance in Douglass’s Narrative



Essay on Oppression and Resistance in Douglass’s Narrative

Fredrick Douglass is well-known for his work towards an end to slavery. One of the things that he is famous for is his works of literature that pointed out the kind of pain that he endured as a slave. In his narrative, Douglass’s primary objective is to reveal to the readers that slavery is barbaric by sharing his life experience as a slave. This paper focuses on the oppression and resistance in Douglass’s narrative.

To begin with, according to Douglass’s narrative, slaves were deprived of their sense of identity. This is evidenced in the narration when he reveals to us that he does not know how old he is. Furthermore, he communicates to us that he does not know his birthplace or his biological father. This kind of oppression was common to the majority of the slaves and there was always a feeling that they never knew where they belonged and always felt that America never had a place for them. He further points out that he was separated from his family at a tender age. This is a clear indication that slavery was evil and something that should never have been allowed. To ensure that the young Douglass does not know his real parents, one of the things that his master did was to ensure that he lied to the young boy that the master was actually his father. This further point out another type of oppression that slaves were undergoing in the face of not having the rights to know the truth. They were seen as individuals who did not deserve to know what was happening and as tools that can provide labor for the various economic activities. Those who advocated for slavery always saw it as an avenue for economic growth because it was easy to get free labor.Essay on Oppression and Resistance in Douglass’s Narrative

Similarly, according to Douglass’s narrative, another kind of oppression underwent by the slaves was child labor. As a young child, Fredrick Douglass was working on Colonel Edward Lyord’s plantation as a slave.  As a young person, it is common sense that every individual has a right to education. Subjecting the young Fredrick Douglass to this type of a job at a young age was not only barbaric but also disregarded one of the most fundamental rights that should be enjoyed by young people. In the plantations, slaves were also exposed to brutal treatments of all the people serving as slaves. In his narration, Fredrick Douglass reveals to us that he occasionally witnessed slaves from different generations and gender being caned severely. This is a kind of experience that no one in this world would like to undergo. It may interfere with one’s self-esteem and consequently affect the confidence of a person.

Equally, in Douglass’s narrative, we are enlightened that slaves were not given the freedom to make life choices. This is evidenced by how the young Douglas would be sent from one place of slavery to another. In the narrative, a lady offered to train him how to read and write. This was seen as something not to be entertained by the husband of the woman. This further demonstrates to us that there were few avenues for growth for the slaves.

Fredrick Douglas showed resistance towards slaves right from the time he was a slave himself. Even before he started his works of writing, Fredrick Douglas was actively involved in opposing slavery. To begin with, he acquired knowledge in form of literacy as a slave. During slavery, slaves were not allowed to learn or acquire any form of training. All they were required to do was work, work and work in the fields. Educating slaves was perceived as a threat to their masters, no slave was to be educated, and those caught reading or learning to write were exposed to severe punishment. Despite, knowing all this, Fredrick Douglas went ahead to teach himself and acquire knowledge in literacy. He knew that knowing how to write and read was a strong way of opposing slavery and he could tell the whole world what was happening to slaves. Therefore, he demonstrated resistance to slavery through learning even though it was prohibited by the laws of slavery, which were also part of the laws of the land. It is through this determination to oppose slavery by learning at a time when slaves were supposed to be ignorant that one can see the young Douglas starting to detest slavery.Essay on Oppression and Resistance in Douglass’s Narrative

Another was through which Fredrick Douglas resisted slavery was through his speeches, writings and contributions he made to newspapers. Fredrick Douglas was a well-known figure and was invited to different gatherings and conferences to give speech. He used such platforms to tell the world about the kind of life that slaves went through. He did not hesitate to condemn slavery and tell people that it was not only inhumane but also all oppressive to the slaves. He would tell his story as a child to make people aware that slavery was abuse of human rights. For instance, he mentioned that he could not tell his age as a child unlike the white children. Through making speeches of the hardship that slaves went through, he was able to tell other people that it was time to end slavery. He was the voice of the slaves in the United States and he perfectly used this opportunity to tell people that slavery was not good for humanity.Essay on Oppression and Resistance in Douglass’s Narrative