Frederick Douglass’ autobiography discusses his road to freedom after being born into slavery in the south during the 19th century. He relays experiences of his time as a slave and recounts how slaves were treated no differently than animals. Douglass was able to see how truly cruel the white slave owners were and was able to see past their deceptions that made the slaves believe freedom was a bad thing. With some trouble, Douglass gained access to books and decided to educate himself. He sought out to gain knowledge, his first step towards freedom, and was able to eventually reach his dream. He used his knowledge to educate others and be a part of abolitionists groups fighting for the freedom of many slaves. Douglass conveys his readers an underlying message of the importance of gaining personal freedom. Not just physically free, but mentally free from someone else’s beliefs they may have tried to ensue. In comparison, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s The American Scholar also has an underlying message to encourage his listeners to be independent and gain knowledge to their best ability. Emerson encourages people to go beyond text books go gain knowledge and instead let life or nature educate them as well. Although Douglass did so oppositely, both American authors encouraged their listeners to reach beyond what they are told and become independent thinkers. In a way, they both encouraged freedom, Douglass from slavery and Emerson from society’s standards.


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