What would you say freedom means to Frederick Douglass?

1 Answer | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Through his actions and ideas brought out in his Autobiography, I would say that Douglass defines freedom as "positive liberty", the ability to be an active agent of his own destiny.  Throughout the work, I think we see Douglass seeking to utilize his freedom in a manner that enhances his autonomy.  This desire for control of self leads to his desire to seek a life outside of slavery and define freedom in this "positive" manner.  I think that the challenge will be to find examples of Douglass using his freedom to be a more active agent of his own sense of consciousness.  His gain in literacy skills could be one such example, while another one could be the entire concept of his escape.  We can even extrapolate this to after his life as a slave in examining the elements of his life that show his desire to actively seek to change the circumstances around him.  In seeking to define this notion of freedom with examples from the text, I think we have moved Douglass' work from merely a sample of great writing, but rather a transformative piece of art that can allow us to see what can be from what is as we inherit Douglass' legacy of being our own authors of autobiographies and active agents of the world in which we inhabit.

We’ve answered 318,923 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question