"Douglass' Women" Analytical Essay by writingsensation

"Douglass' Women"
This paper is a review of Jewell Parker Rhodes' historical novel "Douglass' Women" about abolitionist Frederick Douglass and the two women who devoted their lives to him, his black wife and his white mistress.
# 67994 | 1,745 words | 0 sources | 2005 | US

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The paper explains that Jewell Parker Rhodes' states that, when she came across a quote by Frederick Douglass describing his wife as "an old black log", she began to wonder about this faceless woman, damned to the ages by such an unflattering description and decided to tell her story as well as the story of the another woman, this one Caucasian, who also struggled for Douglass' elusive love. The author points out that Rhodes alternates voices, giving a few chapters to Anna, the wife, who clings to her Freddy believing that "love be true" and then a few chapters to Ottilie, the lover, who calls herself "the wife of his spirit". The paper relates that, although Frederick Douglass is never given a voice of his own in the book, his characterization is perhaps the most interesting in the book because the reader sees this famous abolitionist through the eyes of Anna and Ottilie, and their vision does not paint a very flattering picture.

From the Paper:

"Although Rhodes certainly acknowledges the history that dictates the circumstances of her characters, her story is at heart a domestic one--a story of two very different women longing for the same unavailable man. That Frederick is indeed emotionally unavailable is highlighted at every turn. He doesn't do "little things" for Anna, nor whisper sweet words to Ottilie. In his speeches, he thanks neither woman for the help they have given him. "Who helped more than me?" Anna thinks as she hears her husband's first speech. "How come Freddy didn't mention me?" Later Ottilie, listening to Douglass speak years later, reflects, "I'd heard Douglass give this speech numerous times and each time I felt outrage. He'd never thanked me. Never mentioned me.""

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