People would never believe that love, which would appear to be the most content feeling ever, is actually a destructive perpetual nightmare. Destruction leads to fear, and is everlasting. Light in that individual’s life suddenly darkens and then hatred possesses the soul. How is it that such positivities appear to be negative? Well, such is essence in “Learning to Read and Write” by Frederick Douglass when Douglass hoped to fulfil his dream of escaping slavery by improving his academics; however, he revealed that agony flourished as a result of expanding his knowledge.
He became self-aware, and came to a conclusion that slavery was a condemnation rather than a gift. A student named Ashley Lopez responded to Douglass’s statement and expressed that knowledge is half good and half bad–in other words, it was both a blessing and a curse. Contrary to Lopez’s argument, evidence from the text proves that knowledge depicts as a curse more willingly than as a blessing because it consumed Douglass’s life with negativities.
It severely impacted his life considering that: he developed hatred towards his slave owners; he allowed fear to overcloud his judgement because he became paranoid towards strangers who was trying to help him; and he immediately neglected himself, which made him discouraged and self-destructive. Collectively, these consequences are indicative to the fact that knowledge is a curse. Douglass gaining knowledge of his condition as a slave led him to develop revulsion towards his slave owners.
In an effort to show his utter abhorrence, Douglass emphasizes: “I could regard them in no other light than a band of successful robbers, who had left their homes, and gone to Africa, and stolen us from our homes, and in a strange land reduced us to slavery” (Douglass 148). Douglass was able to gain knowledge and understand the he hated Master Hugh because he learned that slave owners as the most wickedest and blames Hugh for taking away his freedom. His loss left him with a burden of disappointment and hurt because he did not agree with his condition as a slave, or being one of Hugh’s victim.
If Douglass decided to not pursue improving his academics, his life would not have been consumed with the negativities that aversion brought into it. In addition, not only was it Master Hugh whom Douglass grew to be deceitful towards– he also grew hatred for his other slave owner, Master Hugh’s wife, also known as his mistress. At first, she portrayed as a tender-hearted woman when she was teaching Douglass how to read and he admired her. Likewise, she drastically changed from a kind helpful woman to a stubborn slave owner because she began to practice her husband’s abusive precepts towards slaves.
Douglass’s hate for her progressed as she “fully revealed her apprehension” (Douglass 146). He grew so much hatred for her because she betrayed him and treated him like an animal. In order to show how Douglass loathed his slave owners, he acknowledged them as: “being the meanest as well as the most wicked of men” (Douglass 146). If Douglass stayed ignorant, he would have never felt negativity and hatred towards his slave owners since he would have been unaware of his situation as a slave.
Consequently, it is clear that knowledge is a curse because it made him a hateful man towards his slave owners. The awareness that Douglass acquired from knowledge caused him to develop a sunx of paranoia and fear towards those that could be trying to help him and so this is indicative of a downfall rather than a success. Douglass was able to approach an Irishman who was offering him insights on where to run away and escape to. Although this may appear to be beneficial towards Douglass, he silently rejected the Irishmen’s help because of his anxiety of being used.
As means of revealing his fear, Douglass made known that: “I fear they might be treacherous” (Douglass 149). Knowledge made him more aware of his surroundings; however, it proved to be regretful that he gained knowledge because it made him paranoid and scared to be betrayed and used, even by those he had never met before. He did not know the Irishmen, yet he judged them based on the fact that they was white. If Douglass accepted the Irishmen’s offer to run away and escape, perhaps he would have been free sooner and this shows that knowledge is a curse.
By virtue of Douglass’s fear, he also asserts that: “I was afraid that these seemingly good men might use me” (Douglass 149). His fear got in the way of opportunities for him. It is disclosed that knowledge brought the negative factor of fear into Douglass’s life, thus, it is a curse. The outcome resulting from Douglass’s aim to achieve a further education allowed him to learn the circumstance of his condition as a slave; however, it happened to be the ruination that led Douglass to question his own existence, so knowledge is emblematic of a malediction as opposed to a benediction.
It is assured that knowledge created Douglass’s suicidal thoughts, especially when he stresses that: “I often found myself regretting my own existence, and wishing myself dead” (Douglass 148) after discovering his conditions as a slave from reading an excerpt from a book by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. The fact that it drives Douglass so crazy that he goes as far to become skeptical about his own life, shows how unethical and dehumanizing slavery really is; yet, this would not have resulted because of education being a curse, especially since his mind was vivid when he articulates: “I should have killed myself” (Douglass 148).
Not only was it Hell for Douglass to stay alive through this process, he grew envious of other slaves, In consequences of agony, Douglass proclaims that: “I envied my fellow slaves for their stupidity” (Douglass 148). It proves that Douglass hated himself because envy is self-hatred. Nonetheless, these negativities would have never come upon Douglass’s life if he did not encounter education because the wreckage that resulted from his suicidal and jealous thoughts prove that knowledge is a curse. Many had debated over the statement whether knowledge identifies as a curse or a blessing in the text.
It is certain that knowledge portrayed as a curse in Douglass’s life, but it did not always appear to be one. With regards to understanding how to read and write, Douglass grew to be very self-motivated when it came to academics. In particular, he was able to: “spend the time in writing in the spaces left in Master Thomas’s copy-book, copying what he had written,” and he “finally succeeded in learning how to write”(Douglass 150). Because of his motives, Douglass became ambitious and was certain that he wanted to continue his education further; however, that does not justify the fact that knowledge placed Douglass in a miserable state of mind.
Initially, Douglass first hoped to be able to free and escape slavery; yet, he expresses that: “Freedom now appeared, to disappear no more longer” (Douglass 148). Indeed, knowledge gave him a vivid understanding of his quandary, nonetheless, gave him no solution to his condition. For this purpose, Douglass accentuates that: “It [knowledge] had given a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy… It was everlasting thinking of my condition that tormented me. ” (Douglass 148). It is important to understand that Dougless should have stayed ignorant because his would have had a positive state of mind rather than a negative one.
Now he have to live with the negative consequences that arose into his life all because of his decision to extend his education. Following Frederick Douglass struggling through slavery and obtaining knowledge proves to be the reason why Douglass’s life was demolished with negativities, such as hatred, fear, and deterioration. If it wasn’t for knowledge, Douglass would had never: grown so much hate for his slave owners; he would not had to be paranoid and scared of encountering new faces; and he would had never went so dark to the point where he had to question his own existence and regretting to not kill himself beforehand.
Opposed to Lopez’s perspective, she failed to comply that Douglass only struggled on his journey to gain knowledge, so it is fallacious to say that knowledge is both a blessing and a curse when it happened to be threatening towards Douglass’s life overall. Like an English poet named Thomas Gray once concluded that: “Ignorance is bliss. ” In Douglass’s case, if he was incomprehensive towards his acquired knowledge about his condition, he would not had struggled because of the curse that it had brought upon him.