Any school subject, except literature, gives a student a kind of ready knowledge that he or she must learn, memorize and apply at the right time. In literature, the student obtains knowledge by oneself, emphasizing the characters and the author of the work. Moreover, a person can learn other people’s pain and joy, grief and despair, and thereby, to increase own experience, to experience different states of the soul (not just to fix them in the memory of the mind, but also to put them into the heart) only through empathy. Thus, the main thesis of the paper is the following: literature gives the reader an opportunity to transform into the hero of the observed work, to visit the past or to explore the future, to learn important lessons, which will help to understand the surrounding reality better. So, the main aim of the project is to discuss lessons learned from American literature, basing on two sources; one source is Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an America Slave written by Frederick Douglass in 1845, and the second is Resistance to Civil Government, or Civil Disobedience written by Henry David Thoreau in 1849.
Thinking about lessons learned from American literature, it is possible to mention that both of the above mentioned books are considered to be historical books, while Thoreau’s book has also a very bright political motive. In such a way, historical books, despite the complexity and sometimes contradictory components of their philosophical, conceptual, and etymological features, are not only some objects that simply reflect reality, but they are also their authors’ opportunity to talk with readers and show own opinions towards historical and political facts and events.
It can be mentioned that Frederick Douglas not only tried to show the details of own destiny, but he was also struggling to protect own people from possible humiliations and tournaments. The author was trying to prove that slaves are also people with their sufferings and necessities, and the Narrative has touched deeply all Americans in their basic issues, such as social justice and equal rights, the true value of freedom and depictions of violence against slaves, who are not able to protect themselves, because they have no rights and any legal power in those times society. It is a truth that many researchers use this book as a kind of historical document because many social questions are depicted in the brightest way in it, while the book teaches us to respect other people in spite of their race, language, religion, social status and other differences.
Moreover, taking into account the fact that Douglass has demonstrated the process of gaining a human dignity, a kind of intellectual independence, a strong will to resist, the ability to speak and write freely, the process of identifying of African American on the example of his own life with an honest and thorough self-analysis, fixing the attention on the key aspects of the spiritual treatment’ and awakening of consciousness, we can say that the author teaches all the book’s readers to be kind to others, to develop own personality and to make own life and the life of other people better.