An opinion of what slavery can do to a person using information from “The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass.”
The slave owner, as well as, the slave seemed to experience dehumanization, but in two different forms. Just as in war situations their humanity dissipates because they are trying to protect their emotional feelings. Our emotions are what make us human and without them we see scenes like the one on page 21 in Douglass’ depiction of his life. “After crossing her hands, he tied them with a strong rope, and led her to a stool under a large hook in the joist, put in for the purpose…he commenced to lay on the heavy cowskin, and soon the warm, red blood came dripping to the floor” The only way a human can exhibit this type of behavior is by hardening their heart. There are many verses in the Bible that start off by saying, “do not harden your heart.”
Slave owners did not see the slave as a person, but as an animal. The power they felt over another surpassed their feelings of concern and love. They felt nothing towards the slaves because they were property. They could be sold or die at the drop of a hat, better to not get attached. The slaves hardened their hearts because if they continued to think of how bad their situations were they would lose their will to live or die trying to escape. Of course there were exceptions for both the slaves and the slave owners, however it is rare and no specifics are mentioned in Fredrick Douglass’ writings.
Slavery is evil. It turns seemingly good people into monsters. It is a type of demon possession taking over the slave owner’s body. They don’t care what happens to the slaves and they feel no remorse. Is it possible for them to have no compassion in one aspect of life and to have it in another, towards their family? I don’t see that as possible, “demon possession” takes over the entire body, as well as, the life they live. Their soul is still intact, but they have no control over their movements. Slavery and possession show the same characteristics. An example would be one of Frederick Douglass’ slave owners, Mrs. Auld. At first she was extremely kind and showed no ill intentions towards him because she had never owned a slave before.
“But alas! This kind heart had but a short time to remain such The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that a demon (45)”
It seems Douglass believes it is not her fault, but a demon possession in the disguise of slavery. He hates slavery not her. He hates what it did to her and it was unnecessary.
Despite the end of the slavery age in America, slavery still exists today in different forms and in different parts of the world. Husbands beat their wives and vise versa. Despite their freedom, they don’t what to leave because they are scared, thus, developing the mind and soul deterioration of both parties. Usually, one’s mind has to endure a severe psychological threat; abuse, rape, or death for them to become a hostile person. This is not an excuse, but this emotional trauma can affect the brain and therefore, the soul. We will never see the end of slavery in our lifetime. There will always be some form of it lurking somewhere.
- Douglass, Fredrick. Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass.