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Frederick Douglass’s poem Essay

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Updated: Sep 18th, 2019

One of the main ideas that are being explored throughout the course of Frederick Douglass’s autobiography is the fact that, while subjecting Black slaves to an inhumane treatment, Southern slave-owners were drawing their inspiration out of the Bible, as such does, in fact, endorse slavery in a rather explicit manner.

In its turn, this helps to explain why the author decided to conclude his literary masterpiece with A Parody – a poem, formatted in a similar manner with the Southern church-hymn Heavenly Union, which used to be particularly liked by these slave-owners.

Apparently, by doing it, Douglass strived to emphasize the hypocritical ways of Southern slave-owning Bible-thumpers, who used to be thoroughly comfortable with indulging in two mutually incompatible activities, at the same time – treating Black slaves in terms of a soulless commodity and congratulating each other on the sheer strength of their commitment to the ‘religion of peace and tolerance’.

Had Douglass chosen in favor of conveying this particular message directly (such as in the form of a narrative, for example), the dramatic effect of his exposure of the pretentious essence of slave-owners’ piousness would not be quite as strong.

This is because then, readers would be tempted to think that, while criticizing these people’s religious hypocrisy, Douglass was concerned with advancing his point of view of the subject matter. On the other hand, while being exposed to Douglass’s Parody, readers can exercise complete liberty, while interpreting what accounts for this poetic piece’s subtle message.

While doing it, however, they will inevitably end up subscribing to the author’s vision of Southern slave-owners, known for their tendency to praise the Lord ‘till it hurts’, as being nothing short of vicious and greed-driven beasts, concerned with only one thing – making money at the expense of denying Black slaves their fundamental human rights.

After all, just as Douglass masterfully showed it, one’s senses of piousness and greed may not only coexist peacefully within the same mind, but they actually define each other rather organically – just as the poem’s lines, concerned with exposing Bible-thumpers’ actual deeds, define the sounding of tracks, in which these people express their self-presumed righteousness.

This is exactly the reason why Douglass’s Parody has traditionally been considered one of the most powerful indictments of slavery. Apparently, Douglass’s poetic piece provides readers with an in-depth insight into the counterproductive nature of just about any organized religion, which promotes the notion there are ‘chosen people’, favored by God, on the one hand, and ‘infidels’, which deserve no mercy, on the other.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Frederick Douglass’s poem." September 18, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/frederick-douglasss-poem/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Frederick Douglass’s poem'. 18 September.

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