*THIS PAPER IS FOR REFERENCE AND STUDYING PURPOSEES ONLY! PLEASE DO NOT PLAGARIZE OR COPY THIS PAPER AS IT IS AGAINST THE WISHES OF THE AUTHOR AND THE CODE OF ACADEMIC HONESTY. THANK YOU. Paper on the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” by Frederick Douglass Irresponsible Power: Harmful to both Masters and Slaves It has been said, by some of the greatest thinkers and writers of all time, that power corrupts. Given what we know about slavery from Frederick Douglass’ narrative, it’s easy to see how this idea applied to the white slave owners. Douglass often wondered how his masters could be so cruel, how they could find it within themselves to commit the atrocities required by slavery. Douglass realized that the irresponsible power associated with slavery harms the slave owners and, through them, brings injury to the slaves they own. One example of the damaging effects of slavery has on slave owners can be seen in Sophia Auld, who had never owned a slave before Douglass. When Douglass first met her he was awestruck by her innocence and purity. “My new mistress proved to be all she appeared when I first met her at the door—a woman of the kindest heart and finest feelings” (46). Compared to Mr. Gore and the other overseers back at the plantation, Mrs. Auld must’ve seemed like an angel to Douglass, especially when she began to teach him how to read and write. But this kindly woman, sheltered from the evils of slavery in Baltimore, was soon corrupted by the “irresponsible power” brought on by the acquisition of her first slave. “Under its influence, the tender heart became stone, and the lamblike disposition gave way to one of tiger-like fierceness.” After her husband chided her for teaching a slave to write, Mrs. Auld grew increasingly violent towards Douglass, especially when she caught him reading a book or newspaper. Slavery, in effect, had turned “that angelic face…to that of a demon” (46). That wasn’t the only time Douglass suffered under the influence of irresistible power. His other owner, Captain Auld, much like his Brothers wife, wasn’t used to having slaves, and was a failure of a master. He was unsure as how to maintain control over his slaves, and his rigidity in enforcing obedience could be at any time either firm or lax. Douglass described him, saying “He was cruel, but cowardly. He commanded without firmness…He found himself incapable of managing slaves either by force, fear, or fraud” (65). Captain Auld tried to make up for this by being an incredibly cruel master, but he was an inconsistent one at that. A slave could escape punishment for the gravest offence at one time, and be savagely beaten for the smallest infraction the next. Things became even worse when the captain attended a Methodist camp-meeting and became a convert. He began to rely on the bible and his own perverted sense of religion to justify the horrible treatment and punishment. Conditions for the slaves became steadily worse. Captain Auld still failed to break Douglass’ spirit however, and sent him to work under a renowned slave trainer, Mr. Covey. Despite the harsh year ahead of him, Douglass was just glad to get away from Captain Auld. “I made the change gladly, for I was sure of getting enough to eat, which is not the smallest consideration to a hungry man” (68). Douglass shows, through the examples mentioned above, that irresponsible power harmed those slave owners that wielded it, and made life harder for their slaves. The slave owners, instead of dealing with their own weaknesses, took out their frustration on their slaves. This was self-destructive to the slave owners, and it caused unnecessary pain for the slaves. Douglass saw this, and one might argue that he wrote this book to end slavery for the betterment of all men, black and white.