Frederick Douglass Essay

1098 words - 5 pages

Per. 3

The Effects of Ignorance

 Throughout his youth, Frederick Douglass served as a slave on the farms in Maryland and in Baltimore. As he grew older, he gained education, more free time than other slaves, and money and eventually made his escape to New York. When writing his autobiography, he takes into consideration all that he's been through but also the experiences of all the slaves around him. Along with focusing on what slaves and slave holders knew, Douglass tends to focus more on what they didn't know and how that had effected them. He discussed blacks and whites’ ignorance towards different things and how what they don't know had dehumanized them. He uses ...view middle of the document...

      Douglass figured this out when he was learning the ABC's from Mrs. Sophia Auld, the wife of his master Hugh Auld. Since she doesn't know that slaves aren't supposed to be educated, she begins to teach Douglass how to read until her husband orders her to stop, claiming "that it was unlawful, as well as unsafe, to teach a slave to read", making them "unmanageable" and of no use to his master (chapter 6). Douglass overhears Auld saying this to his wife. At this point, he suddenly realizes what slave holders exercise in order to keep black people enslaved. Slave holders use the blacks’ ignorance to their advantage. Douglass now understand that education is the key to freedom and that he should everything he can in order to achieve success. Black people, to begin with, don't have much hope for themselves, as shown in their trip to the Great Farm House, so strategically using this to their advantage isn't hard for slave masters. In a way, ignorance is cultivated through ignorance itself. Because blacks failed to realize that their attitude towards slavery encouraged the terrible attitudes of slaveholders, they never knew that they had the opportunity to earn their freedom through education. 
      Christianity is yet another idea that Douglass uses to show ignorance, this time of slave holder and other white people. Throughout the narrative Douglass gives various examples and anecdotes to stress the fact that slave owners treat their slaves like property, despite being human beings. He believes that the treatment of slaves with no respect, being compared to animals, is cruel and absurd. In chapter 3, slaves were being punished for telling the truth that the slaveholder himself asked for. Slave masters are ignorant to the way that they're treating their slaves, and Christianity encourages this. Christianity justifies this. Slave holders just look for ways to rationalize slavery and they find it in Christianity. These so-called "religious" men seem not to know the true form of Christianity. They twist Christianity in ways that validate slavery. Mr. Hopkins is a perfect illustration of that. He found every little excuse to do horrible things...

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