“Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” by Frederick Douglass
The selected passage
“My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died; the night of slavery closed in upon me, and behold a man transformed into a brute” (Douglass 81).
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is a powerful autobiography that describes the experiences of people who were deprived of their freedom. The selected passage describes the devastating effects of slavery on the emotional and intellectual life of an individual who understand the value of dignity and education. Furthermore, this passage highlights the dehumanization of slaves.
To a great extent, the author can achieve this goal by using different linguistic means such as metaphors that help him demonstrate that such notions as justice and slavery are incompatible with one another. These are the main issues that should be examined in greater detail.
It should be noted that in this part of the book, Frederick Douglass depicts the behavior of Mr. Covey, his new owner. To a great extent, this person wanted to turn Douglass into an obedient servant who did not have any intellectual or spiritual aspirations (Douglass 81). While describing his experiences, the author employs a very powerful metaphors. For example, one can refer to such a phrase as, “the night of slavery” (Douglass 81).
It is possible to say that this metaphor is vital for explaining the existence of people who are forced to obey the will of other people. In most cases, these individuals can be reduced the status of animals that have no desires. This is one of the details that immediately attract the attention of the readers.
Moreover, Frederick Douglass shows that slavery deprives individuals of their hope for any improvement in their conditions. This is why the author uses such a phrase in this passage, “the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died” (Douglass 81).
It should be noted that Frederick Douglass did cherish some hope of raising his status in society. Unlike many slaves, he had access to education. Therefore, he was more likely to feel the painful effects of slavery on an individual. This is why the cruelty of Mr. Covey was so noticeable to the author.
Furthermore, in this passage, Frederick Douglass prefers to interact with the audience. This is why he includes such a verb as “behold” while writing this passage (Douglass 81). To a great extent, this approach makes the reader feel empathy for the narrator and other people who could face similar hardships.
It should be taken into consideration that the autobiography was addressed to people who might not know much about the experiences of slaves. One can argue that the author has been able to achieve the goal. This is one of the main arguments that can be put forward.
Overall, this passage is a brilliant example of Frederick Douglass’ writing. It indicates that the author longed for intellectual development, freedom, and hope for a better life. However, he was denied this opportunity. His word choices highlight the adverse impact of slavery on a person.
This issue was particularly relevant to people like Frederick Douglass who knew that freedom was indispensable for every human being. The chosen passage is important for understanding the main ideas of the author.
Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: SAT Words From Literature, New York: Prestwick House, 1992. Print