The Story of Frederick Douglass from Slavery to Freedom in The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Last Updated: 03 May 2023
Essay type: Narrative
Pages: 3 Views: 192

This book tells the story of the life of Frederick Douglass, from slavery to freedom. The purpose of this book is to share Frederick Douglass's life, including his struggles as a slave on a plantation in the south before abolition. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass describes the significant details of Douglass's life while describing his feelings towards the events.

The book starts with Frederick Douglass giving a brief summary of his life. He tells where he was born and who his mother was, as well as talking about how he became a slave. He proceeds to describe the two masters he has had in his lifetime and the cruelty the overseers they hired showed him, saying, "Mr. Plummer was a miserable drunkard, a profane swearer, and a savage monster (3)". Frederick Douglass discusses different memories he has about his life with his first master, his second master, and all the people he was forced to live with and work for in between. During his stay with Captain Anthony and Lloyd he was badly beaten and constantly abused. Both masters were brutal but the treatment of their slaves by the overseers they hired were even more pitiless.

Eventually Frederick Douglass tells about how he learned to read and write from one of his master's wives. When the master finds out, he forces his wife to stop teaching Frederick, saying, "A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master- to do what he is told (20)". After learning to read and write Frederick Douglass decides he must escape. He continues to teach himself to read and begins to read about freedom and abolition, causing him to decide he can no longer live in captivity and he must somehow make it to the North. In explaining the reason learning to read made him want to escape he says "Mistress, in teaching me the alphabet, had given me the inch, and no precaution could prevent me from taking the ell (23)". After careful planning, he manages to escape and lives the rest of his life as a free man.

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The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass does a stupendous job re-creating the atrocious life slaves had to live during that time period in history. In writing this book Frederick Douglass makes sure not to leave out a single aspect of his life that he can remember. In doing this, he manages to give detailed descriptions that enable the reader to visualize everything that is happening as Frederick Douglass describes it. It is not written in a language too difficult to understand; therefore people of all ages can enjoy it and learn from it. The book is brief and to the point. Unlike many other autobiographies, it doesn't dance around the topic that the author intended to write about. He begins the story and talks about everything stating it exactly how he saw it without long, pointless, seemingly endless descriptions.

Although the book was wonderfully written, it also has some weaknesses. Frederick Douglass does go straight to the point, but he also jumps around from topic to topic, which can be confusing to the reader at times. He talks about one master and remembers things about another in the middle of his story and that leads to confusion. Another weakness is the fact that sometimes Frederick Douglass elaborates too much on some of his stories while at other times he just mentions a topic and chooses not to elaborate. The details and descriptions are not evenly distributed throughout the book.

In closing, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is a simple book that is easy to read and understand. It is recommended for anyone interested in learning about slavery from the point of view of a former slave. The book depicts, in great detail, the harshness of a life in slavery, explaining everything from Douglass's life as a slave, his journey toward freedom, and the beginning of his life as a free man. The book may, at some points, seem a bit confusing but it can be very helpful to anyone fascinated by the life of slaves.

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The Story of Frederick Douglass from Slavery to Freedom in The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. (2023, May 01). Retrieved from

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