Jennifer Greiman

in Democracy's Spectacle

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780823230990
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241156 | DOI:

Series: American Literatures Initiative


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Through My Bondage and My Freedom, Frederick Douglass longs for an impossible spectator: a witness to the daily abominations of slavery who is in no way implicated by them. Douglass's sense of relief at reaching the relative safety of the jail is perhaps unsurprising, but it comes as something of a shock to read of his susceptibility to “the power of public opinion.” Douglass is obviously subject to force — to the force of law that permits constables to arrest men with no evidence that a crime has been committed and that recognizes their personhood only insofar as it renders them punishable, and to the “combined physical force” of the community that keeps him enslaved.

Keywords: Frederick Douglass; public opinion; power; slavery; physical force

Chapter.  14813 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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