Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave: Notes

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave: Notes

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave: Notes

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave: Notes

Synopsis

The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background.

Including

  • Life and Background of the Author
  • List of Characters
  • Critical Commentaries
  • Introduction to the Novel
  • Critical Essays
  • Essay Topics and Review Questions
  • Selected Bibliography

    Frederick Douglass will forever remain one of the most important figures in America’s struggle for civil rights and racial equality. His influence can be seen in the politics and writings of almost all major African-American writers, from Richard Wright to Maya Angelou. Douglass, however, is an inspiration to more than just African Americans. He spoke out against oppression throughout America and abroad, and his struggle for freedom, self-discovery, and identity stands as a testament for all time, for all people. Born into slavery around 1818, he eventually escaped and became a respected American diplomat, a counselor to four presidents, a highly regarded orator, and an influential writer. He accomplished all of these feats without any formal education.

    His Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave is a moving account of the courage of one man’s struggle against the injustice of antebellum slavery. Published in 1845, sixteen years before the Civil War began, the Narrative describes Douglass’ life from early childhood until his escape from slavery in 1838. Douglass uses a matter-of-fact voice, logical analysis, and a dignified tone, but no one can read his account without feeling emotionally sickened by the horrors of slavery. Produced in an era before visual and audio electronic recordings were possible, Douglass’ Narrative is an important testimony. Had there not been literate slaves who wrote about their sufferings, our knowledge and understanding of this shameful period of America’s past might well be different.

  • Excerpt

    A leading abolitionist in the North, and Douglass’ patron. Garrison and his followers advocated the abolition of slavery on moral grounds but did not support armed resistance.

    Wendell Phillips

    Another leading figure in the abolitionist movement. After the Civil War, Phillips supported Douglass’ position regarding the enfranchisement of freed slaves. The Phillips-Douglass alliance was in direct opposition to Garrison and his supporters, who advocated a slower pace of reform.

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