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Literature & Language
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Topic:

My Freedom Tell A Different Story From Douglass's Earlier Narrative? (Essay Sample)

Instructions:

How does My Bondage and My Freedom tell a different story from Douglass's earlier Narrative? Use one sandwiched quotation from eachtext to make your comparison

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Content:

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Comparison
My Bondage and My Freedom Frederick Douglass’s autobiography published in 1855 differs greatly with the Narrative, published in 1845, in that it displays a man who has undergone philosophical refinement and improvement. The transformation that Douglass undergoes gradually turns him away from the hard-line anti-slavery stance he first picked from William Lloyd Garrison, inspiring him to a more pragmatic abolitionist approach that would soon have his unique imprint.
This distinction is evident in the different retellings of the circumstances surrounding his escape from slavery in 1938 in both “The Narratives” and “My Bondage”.
In “The Narrative”, we find Douglass considering his state of mind immediately before his escape from slavery in Baltimore to freedom in New York. At this point, he is a man who is reflecting upon the misery of his condition and the barbarity with which his masters are handling him: “The wretchedness of slavery, and the blessedness of freedom, were perpetually before me. It was a life and death with me. But I remained firm, and, according to my resolution, on the third day of September, 1838, I left my chains, and succeeded in reaching New York without the slightest interruption of any kind”.
We see in Douglass an enlightened individual who knows his rights and the perils involved if he is to exercise or attempt to secure those rights. At this point, he had the simple aspiration that any normal person would have; to be free and to enjoy that freedom. His approach is simple, calculated and cold: he either continues to wallow in the dejection of slavery or escapes to liberty even if it means risking his life. (Sweeney, 2007, 67)
Ten years later, after writing “The Narratives”, Douglass has experienced an enriching ideological transformation that has subsequently turned him into one of the finest abolitionists of his generation. His autobiography in 1855 is richer in detail and more descriptive of the circumstances of his earlier experiences. By this time, he had worked with William Lloyd Garrison and observed the strengths and weaknesses of the latter’s hard-line anti-slavery campaign. He had also taken a trip to England via Canada and saw how emancipated people of color lived in those two countries. He had met abolitionists abroad and absorbed their philosophical leanings against slavery, augmenting and justifying his views about its evil in society.
In “My Bondage”, we find Douglass remarking on his state of mind immediately before his successful escape to freedom. Having disagreed with Mr. Covey on several occasions, he reaches a tipping point where he stands up to Covey and resolves that he will no longer be answerable to a master: “I was nothing before; I WAS A MAN NOW. It recalled to life my crushed self-respect and my se...
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