The Oppressive System of Slavery in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Essay details

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

Download PDF


Frederick Douglass’s narrative was an epitome of what was the order of the day during the slave era. He shows different aspects eliciting white oppressive mechanism targeting reliable means and power over the slaves. Various issues are eminent in the narrative that depicts the stances in which the whites had in place to put the slaves under control and also for purposes of enduring that there was a guaranteed supremacy on their part. The big question is whether the slaveholders’ there was different use mechanism that is considerably oppressive particularly on those who resisted. Therefore is the suggestion correct that slavery depicts an oppressive system?

Essay due? We'll write it for you!

Any subject

Min. 3-hour delivery

Pay if satisfied

Get your price


Therefore it is sufficient to state that there exists reason to suggest that slaveholders were oppressive in that ways in which they treated their slaves. There are various ways in which slave-holders had put in place to ensure that there was total control over their slaves. As a depiction of the first issues in which Frederic Douglas had to undergo in his early life, there is an indication of a platform in which slaves were undergoing a taming process. The act of being separated from his mother at a tender age shows the inhumane nature in which they were exposed (Douglass 2).

Unawareness of age due to lack of paternity is a show of the oppressive life in which a young child was living. Further, he writes that he was occasionally witnessing a lot of whipping among other children, and also he was no different from them (26). The situation is a show of the brutal nature in which slaveholders mistreated slaves. Other instances which show the issues of oppression is the fact that the kind of livelihood in which slaves were living was adamantly low and its demonstration is the place, which they were living. The issue is confirmed by the act of being mixed in one room to sleep on damp floors while using miserable beddings (27).

Violation of Human Rights

One can portend that slaveholders were significant violators of human rights. The first example is the instance whereby a child aged seven is sent to work (34). Child labor was dominant during this era. However, there are those who felt that slaves had some right in the society they were in at that time. The city was a depiction of a sense of freedom to a slave and getting an opportunity to work was an indication of almost being at liberty (34). Denial of education was another issue that is portrayed through an attempt by his master’s wife to teach him. The warnings by his master to the wife that knowledge will make the slave unfit to be a slave is an indication of strategized criteria by the masters to keep slaves under their control (34).

Breaking out of the Chains

As a result, slaves were not happy by the in which their masters were treating them. It is evident that the taste of education was the key changing fact in which the slave community had to come across for them to realize their leeway to freedom and in the enhancement of their determination to be free. In the narrative, there is the determination by Douglass to get more education even through giving bread to white children for purposes of getting to learn (34). Other issues that emanate to have been the main cause of slaves trying to resist the problematic issues is imminent through the many beatings in which they had to undergo under the hands of different masters (57).

Other problems include being forced to work and without being given food (56). In this regard, it is justifiable that slaves had to break out of the chains in which they were hanging. Slaves who were undergoing mistreatment like Douglas had to fight their way out of their oppression. Their masters would beat them and would run away but could be recaptured again (57). The only last resort for many was the use of force to free them. The narrative states a fistfight between Douglass and one of his many masters where he later was hired out as a result. Such instances portray how slaves were bolder to fight for their freedom at all cost (65). Escaping by some of the first slaves was a leeway in which to bring slavery to an end (107). The issue that came following such escapes includes the insightful encouragement of fellow slaves to stand for their rights as free people and by giving them hope of developing themselves (117).


Therefore, it’s arguable that slaveholders used oppressive methods against slaves. Additionally, slavery depicts a system full of oppression.

Get quality help now

Prof. Johnson

Verified writer

Proficient in: Frederick Douglass

4.9 (1373 reviews)
“Good paper. Just have to change the heading to what was on the article instead of what you thought it should be.”

+75 relevant experts are online

banner clock
Clock is ticking and inspiration doesn't come?
We`ll do boring work for you. No plagiarism guarantee. Deadline from 3 hours.

We use cookies to offer you the best experience. By continuing, we’ll assume you agree with our Cookies policy.