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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Cathy, Beryl, Kellie and Mindy Cecilia H. C. Liu revised American Literature I 03/01/2005
Basic Background • Birth of Douglass - February 1818 • Place - Holmes Hill Farm, near the town of Easton on Maryland's Eastern Shore – Aaron Anthony = managed the plantations of Edward Lloyd V, one of the wealthiest men in Maryland • Mother - Harriet Bailey, who worked in the • cornfields surrounding Holmes Hill Father – A White man , who was rumored to be Aaron Anthony
Early Years • Lived with Betsey Bailey – lived in a cabin within a short distance from Holmes Hill Farm. – Her job was to look after Harriet's children until they were old enough to work • Age 6 – Brought to Lloyd Plantation • His siblings - Perry, Sara and Eliza
Early Years 2 • When Douglass was young, he used to give bread to poor local boys in exchange for reading lessons. • When he was 12 years old, he had encountered a book called The Columbian Orator, which contains a philosophical dialogue between a master and a slave, which was the first time he heard the word “abolitionist, ” which means anti-slavery • arrived at Thomas Auld ’s place
Freedom • September 3, 1838 – Left Baltimore and went to Wilmington, Delaware • September 4, 1838 - arrived in New York. • Southern slave catchers – Looked for fugitives in boarding houses that accepted Blacks
Life in New York City • Douglass met David Ruggles, who was an officer in the New York Vigilance Committee – He was the city's link in the underground railroad = a network of people who harbored runaway slaves and helped transport them to safe areas in the United States and Canada • September 15, 1838 – Douglass married Anna Murray, and then moved to Port of New Bedford, Massachusetts
Life in New Bedford • Douglass went to work for Nathan Johnson, who • • was from a well-to-do black family Changed Bailey to Douglass, which the name came from The Lady of the Lake, a novel by Scottish author Sir Walter Scott Worked as a common laborer – sawed wood, shoveled coal, dug cellars, and loaded and unloaded ships • 1833 - The American Anti-Slavery Society – a constant battle to reduce racial prejudice in the North
Life as an Abolitionist • August 1841 (23 yrs old) – met William Lloyd Garrison at an abolitionist meeting – Editor of Liberator & outspoken leader of the American Anti-Slavery Society • "The paper became my meat and drink, my soul • was set all on fire. " Hired to be an agent for the society (1841~1845) – a traveling lecturer on tours of the northern states – Purpose - to talk about his life and to sell subscriptions to the Liberator and another newspaper, the Anti. Slavery Standard.
Continued… • 10 years - associated with the Garrisonian school • • of the antislavery movement "He has wit, arguments, sarcasm, pathos - all that first rate men show in their master effort" (Herald of Freedom, Mass. ) 1844 – Doubts – "How a man, only six years out of bondage, and who had never gone to school could speak with such eloquence - with such precision of language and power of thought - they were utterly at a loss to devise”
Published Work • May 1845 - 5, 000 copies of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave was published – The book had become a best-seller: a story of the triumph of dignity, courage, and self-reliance over the evils of the brutal, degrading slave system. – It is a sermon on how slavery corrupts the human spirit and robs both master and slave of their freedom. – The book was enjoyed by the widespread popularity in the North, and even the editions in Europe also sold very well
Problem • Federal laws gave Thomas Auld the right to seize • the property of Douglass—the fugitive slave Frederick Bailey Summer of 1845—decided to go to England – By 1838 all slaves within the British Empire had been given a gradual emancipation and were • December 5, 1846—two English friends raised enough money to buy back the freedom of Frederick Douglass. – Amount = $710. 96 – Hugh Auld signed the papers that declared the 28 year old Douglass a free man.
Life in England • Traveled for nearly two years throughout the British Isles • Encountered little racial prejudice among the British • Spring of 1847 – Returned to America
Life in Rochester • Fall of 1847 – Douglass decided to move to • Rochester, New York, which has a reputation for being pro-abolitionist December 3, 1847 - his four page weekly newspaper, The North Star, came off the presses – Motto: "Right is of no sex - Truth is of no color - God is the Father of us all, and we are all Brethren. " • After 1851 – He published Frederick Douglass' Weekly and Monthly, which symbolized the potential for blacks to achieve whatever goals they set. The paper provided a forum for black writers and highlighted the success achieved by prominent black figures in American society
After the Civil War • 1860 s and beyond—Douglass continued to campaign for the right of blacks to vote and receive equal treatment in public places • 1870 s and 1880 s—Douglass served in government positions under several administrations • 1895—died of a heart attack
His Works • 1845 – Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself • 1855 – Revised the Narrative My Bondage and My Freedom • 1881 and 1892 – The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass • Chronology of Frederick Douglass • Brief Summary of Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself
Slavery • 1662 Virginia law • “Africans would remain servants for life. ” • 1667 • “Baptism doth not alter the condition of the person as to his bondage or freedom. ” • 1740 Slavery system fully developed • Virginia law “chattel personal in the hands of their owners and possessors for all intents, construction, and purpose whatsoever. ”
The Life of the Slaves ü Being cut away from family as well as tribal links – Husbands were separated from wives, and children were separated from mothers. • “My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant. ” (970 B 2040) ü Harsh overseer and brutality was common – “He always rest armed with a cowskin [. . . ] I wish I could commit to paper the feelings with which I behold it. ” (972 B 2041 -42)
The Life of the Slaves 2 üThe unfair treatment - Rape is not considered to be a crime. • “Before he commenced whipping Aunt Hester, [. . . ] red blood came dripping on the floor. ” (972 B 2053) - Blacks can’t present evidence in courts. - To teach a black to read/write is illegal. • “Slavery soon proved [. . . ] that educators and slavery were incompatible with each other. (975 B 2055)
Summary I. VII. IX. X 23 1 Captain Anthony Sophia Hugh Auld & Auld 6 William Freeland 5 4 7 William Gardner Thomas Auld 8 Walter Price 5 Edward Covey
Captain Anthony • Douglass was soon separated from his mother soon after he has been born – “My mother and [. . . ] very early age. ” (970 B 2040) • Father, a white man, whom was said to be Anthony—his master – “My father was a white man [. . . ] the evitable result. (970 B 2040) • The Captain frequently whipped Douglass’s Aunt Hester for his particular sexual interest – “He then said [. . . ] after the bloody transaction was over. (972 B 2042) • Starts his poor life of slavery
Sophia Auld & Hugh Auld • Sophia: – A kind woman, who taught Douglass the alphabet & words • “My new mistress [. . . ] her voice of tranquil. ” (973 B 2053 -54) – However, later on she turned her ways towards cruelty, which was considered to be a disease of slaveholding • “But, alas! [. . . ] gave place to that of a demon. ” (973 B 2054) • Hugh Auld: – When found out what Sophia did, he ordered her stop immediately, because education ruins slaves. • “If you give nigger an inch, he will take an ell. ” (973 B 2054)
Thomas Auld • A stingy and cruel master, who gives slaves a difficult time, for he does not give them enough food – “I have now reached [. . . ] though there are exceptions. ” (978 -79 B 2062) • After he has attended a Methodist camp meeting Auld became more religious and even more cruel – “In August, 1832, [. . . ] been much worse after his conversions than before. ” (980 B 2061) • Rented Douglass to Edward Covey, a poor man with reputation for successfully taming problematical slaves – “He resolved to put me out [. . . ] without any other comprehension. ” (981 B 2065)
Edward Covey • First 6 months was the hardest time of Douglass – “I was now [. . . ] midnight often caught us in the fields binding blades” (982 -83 B 2065 -66) • Runaway – Sandy’s magical root – “To please him, [. . . ] I at first had taken it to be. ” (98788 B 2071) • Fights with Edward Covey—Covey never touches Douglass again – “Mr. Covey seemed now to think he had me, [. . . ] for you will come off worse than you did before. ” (988 B 2071 -72) • Move to William Freeland
William Freeland • Worked slaves hard but fair – “I soon found Mr. Freeland [. . . ] and some respect for humanity. ” (990 B 2074) • Holds a Sabbath school in the cabin – “I held my Sabbath school [. . . ] through my agency. ” (992 -93 B 2076) • This was the period when Douglass desired to live on the “Free Land” – “”At the close of the year, [. . . ] I began to live upon freeland as well as with Freeland. ” (993 B 2076) • Escapes party jail Thomas Auld Hugh Auld William Gardner
William Gardner Walter Price • Severe physical intimidation from white apprentices • Four white apprentices attack Douglass nearly destroyed his left eye • Later on, he returned back to Hugh Auld stayed in Hugh’s shipyard worked under Walter Price, had the highest possible wage, but had to turn back the wages to Hugh Auld – “In a few weeks, [. . . ] Mr. Gardener’s shipyard. ” (998 -99) B 2081 -82)
Theme A. Ignorance as a Tool of Slavery • 1. white slaveholder control their slaves by keeping them ignorant. • 2. many people believe that slavery is a natural state of being. – “I lived in Master Hugh’s [. . . ] I were a brute. ” (975 B 2055)
Theme B. Knowledge as the Path to Freedom – Knowledge helps slaves to articulate the injustice of slavery to themselves and others. – Knowledge helps slaves to recognize themselves as men rather than slaves. • “Slavery soon proved [. . . ] that education and slavery were incompatible with each other. ” (975 B 2055)
Theme C. Slavery’s Damaging Effect on Slaveholders • The corrupt and irresponsible power that slave owners enjoy over their slaves has a detrimental effect on the slave owners’ own moral health. – “In August, 1832, my master attended a Methodist [. . . ] it made him cruel in hateful in all his ways. ” (980 B 2063 -64) – “Slavery soon proved its ability to divest her of these heavenly qualities [. . . ] She finally became even more violent in her opposition than her husband himself. ” (975 B 2056)
Symbol A. White-Sailed Ships • Angels – “Our house [. . . ] multitude of ships. ” (984 -85 B 2068) • Freedom – The ships appear almost a spiritual and physical low point of his first months with Covey, as if they are a vision to Douglass as a sign of his demoralized state.
Symbol 2 B. Sandy’s root • A symbol of a traditional African Approach to religion and belief – “That night I fell in love with [. . . ] I had first taken it to be. ” (987 -88 B 2071) C. The Columbian Orator • A symbol not only of human rights, but also of the power of eloquence and articulation – “I was now about 12 years old [. . . ] died away for want of utterance. ” (976 B 2057)
Conclusion • Douglass progresses from uneducated, oppressed slave to worldly and articulated political commentator. • However, the road he took to freedom was not easy. Many people thought that such a powerful young man could have been a slave. • So Douglass wrote the book, Narrative of Life of Frederick Douglass, and this persistence of him took him to the final success to the land of freedom, where he could be a real man instead of a slave.
References • “Slavery in America” 2 Jan. , 2005 • • •
References • The Norton Anthology American Literature (Page 967~969) • “Plot Overview” Sparknotes 2 Jan. 2005 • • •
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