What provokes a person to write about his or her life? What motivates us to read it? Moreover, do men and women tell their life story in the same way? The answers may vary depending on the person who answers the questions. However, one may suggest a reader elects to read an autobiography because there is an interest. This interest allows the reader to draw from the narrator's experience and to gain understanding from the experience. When the reader involves him/herself in the experience, the reader encounters what is known and felt by the narrator. The encounter may provide the reader an opportunity to explore a time and place long past.
Reading the narratives of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, one identifies a period when the slave's voice begins to emerge. Douglass and Jacobs emerge during the American Renaissance period. During this period, society struggles with the abolishment of slavery and women's rights. Douglass and Jacobs' narratives awaken society to the atrocities of slavery confirmed by their personal experiences. The American Renaissance, distinguished as an intellectual and artistic period, now includes, among others, Douglass and Jacobs brutal historical accounts. Douglass and Jacobs' narrative presence represents the voice slaves who desire freedom from bondage.
In Trudy Mercer's "Representative Woman: Harriet Jacobs and the Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl," she suggests both narratives work as propaganda:
The slave narratives of pre-Civil War America may exemplify the earliest and most dramatic uses of the "personal as political," and the sharing of experiences ...
... middle of paper ...
... the Autobiographies of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs." Melus. 22.4 (Winter 1997): 91-108. 16 April 2002
Douglass, Frederick. "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave." The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Laughter. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002. 1871-1880.
Jacobs, Harriet Ann. "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl." The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002. 1962-1985.
McFreely, William S. Frederick Douglass. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1991.
Mercer, Trudy. Harriet Ann Jacobs Author of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. "Representative Woman: Harriet Jacobs and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl." 16 April 2002.
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