Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs are two authors with very similar backgrounds. Both Douglass and Jacobs were slaves, and both wrote about the accounts they went through while enslaved. Jacobs views are expressed in “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” and Jacobs views in “Incidents in The Life of a Slave Girl. Douglass’s work is directed towards anyone willing to listen, and emphasized the fact that slavery was evil and dehumanized those of the African American race. Jacobs aims her work towards upper class white women because she feels they will have sympathy for how she was treated because she is also a female. Both writers wrote about the hardships of slavery, but their stories are different due to the fact that Douglass is a male and Jacobs is a female.
The major similarity that both writers have is their hatred of the harsh treatment slaves had to endure. Both writers feel slavery brings a person down and weakens the spirit of the African American race. Douglass tells of the whippings slaves received and how “the louder she [a slave] screamed, the harder he [master] whipped” (2042). Douglass said that whippings were the “most terrible spectacle. I wish I could commit to paper the feelings with which I beheld it” (2042). Douglass tells of how slaves were beat even when they had done nothing wrong, depicting that the slave owner liked beating his slaves.
Harriet Jacobs tells stories of whippings as well as stories of how slaves were treated as property. Not only were slaves bought and sold like property, but Jacobs relived accounts of her master taking full control of her and threatening to kill her. Jacobs master said “Do you know that I have a right to do as I like with you,-That I can kill you, if I please” (1762). Jacobs and Douglass both feel no human should be able to treat Williams2 another human as the slaves were treated. In both stories the slave owners can be viewed symbolic of devils because of their harsh treatment towards slaves. Both writers think that slavery not only brings African Americans down, but the harsh treatment de-humanizes the white slave owners.
The major difference between Douglass and Jacobs is the fact that they are different genders. Jacobs lived a harder life due to the fact that she was treated as a slave like everybody else, and taken advantage of because she was female. Jacobs tells of how she was forced into sexual activities by her master, and unable to find real love because her master would
not allow it. She said “there is something akin to freedom in having a lover who has no control over you, except that which he gains by kindness and attachment” (1767). Douglass did not have to deal with sexual assault, and he was only restricted from loving the females that the master had sexual relations with. Another benefit that men had over women was their natural ability to work harder. Jacobs tells of many times when men were not treated as harsh as women simply because they could do more work in a day. Harriet Jacobs and Frederick Douglass both lived a life of slavery. The only difference between Jacobs and Douglass is Jacobs life was harder because she had to endure sexual assault and harsher treatment than men.
In conclusion one [I] feels it is sad that slaves were treated like they were. Slaves were not treated as people, instead they were treated as property. Both Douglass and Jacobs tell of the terrible experiences they witnessed. Both of the authors wrote their stories to sway people away from believing in and allowing slavery. Douglass attempted to sway those of all race and gender with his recollection of the terrible events that he witnessed in slavery. Jacobs tried to sway those of the white female gender because she felt they would have sympathy for her. Through their Williams 3 attempts both Douglass and Jacobs swayed many in favor of slavery to hate slavery due to the inhumane events that they recollected in both of their works.