Essays on Frederick Douglass

Essay About Frederick Douglass

The article, The Liberal Imagination of Frederick Douglass, discusses the purpose of Douglass’s shared experiences and heavily detailed memories. Through sharing Douglass’s story as well as discussing political topics regarding liberalism, the author Nick Bromell reveals that Douglass’s purpose is to emphasize his feelings in exposing the world to the reality of a much-needed recognition and reconciliation regarding the American society.

Throughout the article, Bromell ties together Douglass’s experience as a slave and his memories to a liberal-minded spirit. Bromell states, “As a liberal person, you let yourself go; you set aside your personal self-interest, and you open yourself to life and the world”. As we can see the word “liberal” is no longer just the stereotypical thoughts brought about. It is all about being open to new ideas and interests. Douglass’s experience as a slave has opened his eyes to a new and improved society which led to the beginning of this liberal-minded spirit.

The article begins by setting the scene of Douglass on a boat. Douglass is headed back to where he had once been born into slavery, the Great House Farm. After we begin to explore his memories, the author takes a break from Douglass’s story directly and transitions to the adaptation of the word liberal and how liberals themselves have begun to alter their own beliefs. We then learn that the liberals don’t truly know the values behind the principles they believe, it is just bare habit. Douglass was all about being open to new ideas and interests, but he also wanted to encourage others to be too.

As the article continues we begin to learn more about Douglass’s interaction with the descendant of his original master. Continuing, we begin to experience and understand Douglass’s memories from the exact details of the house to his aunt being beaten. Douglass states, “I shall never forget it whilst I remember anything. It was the blood-stained gate though which I was about to pass. … the entrance to the hell of slavery”. As we continue, Douglass’s story relates more and more to liberalism.

In conclusion, we see that the article is trying to convey Douglass’s goals regarding his view on American society based on his previous tragic experiences as a slave. Bromell states, “As Douglass urged his readers to understand, a liberal’s deepest convictions are more than just ideas, values, or principles. They are also feelings-feelings ‘of justice and fair play common to every honest heart’, feeling that revolt ‘against popular prejudice and meanness,’ feelings that are told to the man by ‘tongues in trees, sermons in stones, and books in the running brooks. 

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