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Frederick Douglas, "My Bondage and My Freedom

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by

leyton janowsky

on 11 April 2016

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Transcript of Frederick Douglas, "My Bondage and My Freedom

Purpose
Douglas’s intended reaction from the people was for them to accept his past as a former slave and acknowledge that slaves could be just as good as the average citizen, or even better. However, Douglas worried that his memoirs would have the side effect of incriminating him and insuring his return to the custody of his “rightful owner." Though this fear was directed mostly toward his earlier autobiography "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave, Written By Himself", seeing as he had bought his freedom by the time he published "My Bondage and My Slavery".
Subject
The subject of the excerpt from "My Bondage and My Freedom" is Douglas’s early development, childhood, his philosophical realizations based upon his life as a slave, and the changes that occurred in him and his master due to slavery.
Audience
Douglas‘s main audience was anyone who questioned the legitimacy of his back story, or simply wanted to know more about him. However, the story was also a good example of the atrocities of slavery, and may have been secondarily intended to gather anti-slavery support from the nation as a whole by providing an inside view of slavery and showing people how bad slavery really was.
Occasion
Douglas wrote "My Bondage and My Freedom" as an update to his earlier autobiography "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written By Himself" and to continue to counter public doubt that one of the premier speakers and writers of the time, Douglas himself, was a former slave. This was necessary because many people believed that he was lying about his origins. These rumors may have been spread by pro-slavery advocates to rebut evidence, in the form of Douglas' speaking and writing abilities, contrary to their beliefs that African Americans were "less" than whites and were enslaved due to their inferiority. However, many people probably believed such propaganda and doubted Douglas' origins because of it.
My Bondage and My Freedom Soapstone
Tone
Frederick Douglas, born in 1818, was African American and a slave until age 20 when he escaped to the free state of Massachusetts, assumed a fake name, and became one of the finest speakers and writers of the time. Frederick Douglas had a profound love for learning and discovery, and was extremely saddened as a child when he realized that he would probably never be free. After later escaping slavery, Douglas campaigned to win freedom for all and to outlaw slavery. After this goal was completed, Douglas went on to campaign for equal rights for all people.
Speaker
By Leyton Janowsky
Douglas holds the tone of a reflective flashback throughout the excerpt, using and expressing little emotion other than hope and happiness with flashes of semi-repressed anger. Douglas expresses this anger only towards the concept of slavery, simply the thought that one human can be inherently better than another, not anyone in particular. Douglas expresses happiness only toward the anti-slavery children that he interacts with and his owner in early days when she taught him to read. This is shown in his statement "I am strongly tempted to give the names of two or three of those little boys, as a slight testimonial of the gratitude and affection I bear them, but prudence forbids."
Autobiography
An autobiography is a person's account of their own life, which mainly focuses only on the events the writer finds significant. The content of an autobiography is strongly influenced by the opinions of the author, both on what is included and how it is portrayed. Because of this, autobiographies are an excellent way to identify an author's opinions toward various topics.
Bibliography
Frederick Douglas. 1875. Google Images. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.
Frederick Douglas 1818-1895
Full transcript