frederick douglass

frederick douglass - Composition Race Monday/Wednesday 4-5...

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Composition – Race Monday/Wednesday 4-5 09/19/07 It is often said that knowledge is power. This idea, commonly accepted in society today, suggests that one is ill equipped without a well-rounded repertoire of knowledge; furthermore, it even suggests that those with knowledge may reign supreme. In stark contrast to that belief, is the idea that ignorance is bliss. This concept implies that those who know nothing are better off and more content than those who try to understand the complexities of the universe. Frederick Douglass discusses both of these concepts in Narrative of the Life. He questions whether it is better to learn how to read and in turn, be knowledgeable about the wrongs of slavery and the concept of abolition, or if he was better off before he knew that there were other options besides the life of slavery which most slaves accepted as their way of life. The question, however, remains; is one better off with the wealth of knowledge or the bliss of ignorance? The answer to this age-old dilemma is knowledge. For although knowledge in many cases, and in the case of Frederick Douglass, come at a heavy price; but in knowledge lay truth, justice and in Douglass’s case, his key to freedom. Knowledge was the forbidden fruit to the slaves of America’s south in the 18 th and beginning of the 19 th century. Masters feared the knowledgeable slave, so much in fact, that they imbedded false truths as a form of oppression. It was common place for a master to urge his slaves to spend their Christmas break in a drunken stupor in hopes that they would gain a false sense of what it is to be free. The theory was, that if a slave comes to understand that freedom means remaining in a drunken stupor, said slave would
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no longer have the desire to be free. Slaveholders feared among all, discontentment among his slaves, so he used this along with other means of withholding knowledge to keep slaves in constant satisfaction with their dependency on their masters. If nothing else, it is safe to assume that any custom practiced by a slaveholder is void of taste and virtue. Therefore, in simple opposition, knowledge is not only power, but also the key to
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This note was uploaded on 04/14/2009 for the course ENGLISH racecomp taught by Professor Tyler during the Spring '09 term at Temple.

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frederick douglass - Composition Race Monday/Wednesday 4-5...

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