Narrative of Fredrick Douglas
Prompt: Douglass maintains that slavery dehumanized both the slave and the slaveholder. Quoting specific passages in the Narrative support this thesis with examples.
Dehumanization can be described as the deprivation of an individual’s control over their actions and stripping them of their basic human rights and qualities. The act of dehumanization transpired in the 1800s when amputation, abuse, and other brutal means of punishment became a way to control slaves, leaving physical and physiological trauma on both the slave and the slaveholder. The relationship of the master and the slave is criticized and questioned continually as it is both wrong and unjust in society. The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, an American
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Alongside the excruciating hours of labor and needless beating was the misuse of power which dehumanized the master morally. A sufficient amount of slaveholders impregnate their female slaves at the plantations. Although Douglass himself is allegedly a seed planted by a white man, his fate of slave was inescapable. Douglass rationalizes that these acts were done to satisfy the masters themselves, “a gratification of their wicked desires profitable as well as pleasurable.” (Douglass 18) The mistreating of the slaves depraves not only the victim, but the offender itself. The victimization of female slaves demonstrates the master’s misuse of power through adultery, rape, and unnecessary whipping for solely pleasurable reasons. The Narrative also discloses the appalling transformation of normal humans into depraved, self-righteous masters. The process is revealed through Sophia Auld, who at first, treats Douglass equally as her own and educates him. However, Mr. Auld explains to her the true immoral relationship of a master and a slave, the placement of a black person in society, and the balance of power between the two. Douglass then terms the transformation, describing slavery’s ability to “divest her of heavenly qualities…the tender heart became stone, and the lamb-like disposition gave way to one of tiger-like fierceness.” Douglass rightly observed that “slavery proved injurious to her as it did to me.” (Douglass 43) Sophia Auld’s character rightly