Two Slave Narratives Of Frederick Douglass And Jacob Harriet
Today, Frederick Douglass and Jacob Harriet’s indigenous genres of slave literature serves as a constant reminder of the unpleasant and intolerable experiences that came along with slavery. Both authors devoted their lives towards demolishing the institutions of bondage in particular through educating the masses. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is a double-edged sequel of American history by Frederick Douglass that unveils the challenges that the slaves endured. Besides, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is a compelling narrative that tours through the escapades of the narrator who appears tangled by the chains of subjection. Both works counter their central topic from a distinctive fashion, which gives more reason for their vibrant popularity. This paper will conduct an in-depth comparison and contrast based on the insight and originality that stems from both slave narratives.
Both narratives unleash that living in captivity is not only a difficult predicament but also inhumane and unacceptable. The atrocious treatment that the slaves encounter on daily basis continues to taint the essence of humanity. For instance, a huge percentage of the subjects have settled with the fact that they are an inferior race as compared to their masters. This shows the extent to which slavery has caused a major havoc across this society. Douglass describes the slaves as subjects “without beds” that is among the least of their worries. Ranging from the psychological torture to isolation caused by enslaving the weak, both narratives insist that the masters have belittled humanity into a property. This way, they find it easy to trade slaves across the market in the name of capitalism. The authors confirm that the slaves must comply with the coerced labor that goes in hand with physical harm. Despite being a tender aged girl, Harriet undergoes through the entire hardships of being a slave. For example, the author remarks that regardless of the slave girl having the privilege to start a new life, she appears perplexed and with full of “fear and uncertainty”.
The ideas circulating across both narratives converge when it comes to demonstrating the ordeal associated with slavery. In addition, both works upheld a common objective that points out at the dire need for abolishing slavery. In here, the author tours the readers across the society that enslaved them and hopes that the forthcoming generations will not have to undergo these experiences. Thereby, both authors highly agree on the call towards uprooting captivity that brings out their main objective. The journey towards the antislavery campaign demanded to unite hands and fighting all those forces supporting captivity. Servitude was much familiar to people who experienced it directly from which the authors aimed at creating a platform where people could connect through thoughts. The oppressors suppressed the slaves from reading as a means of keeping them in the dark about their rights. Mrs. Auld coaches Douglass through some basic concepts of reading and writing which is similar to Harriet’s experience. Douglass recalls, “She kindly commenced” by tutoring him the pronunciation of the four alphabets. Freedom was a latent dream that would come at bitter costs, one of which was to create awareness through reading and writing. Henceforth, both slave narratives acknowledged a shared goal that was the key to ending captivity.
Conversely, the manner into which the authors tackle the issue of gender is the core contrast that emerges across the narratives. Douglass’s view about gender completely varies from Harriett’s given that she feels that women are more vulnerable to sexual predators. Harriett retorts, “Slavery is bad for men” though its outcomes are unfathomable in particular for women. Other than focusing on illuminating the underlying gender issues, Douglass assumes that victimization affects men and women equally. Harriett challenges this idea by reflecting on how her master gives her a “sexual approach” regardless of being a young girl. In essence, Harriet introduces a feminist view of slavery while Douglass pins his entire work from a holistic approach. This distinction has some effects on the intended message since both authors make their claims from a different standpoint. In conclusion, the motive behind composing both slave narratives aimed at creating awareness at the ground level. The chief aim of these narratives was to appeal to the antislavery supporters toward joining hands and cripple the oppressive systems.
Gender is of utmost importance across Harriet’s work as compared to Douglass who based his collective arguments on the struggle persevered by the minority groups. Both narratives confirm that slavery was the worst horror that the victims underwent. A thin line separates what each author represents which gives more reason to why their ideas converge.
Briefly, both authors have played a huge role in rewiring and rewriting the American slave history that explains why they rightfully deserve a standing ovation.
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