Defining Freedom in Literature

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Freedom isn’t doing whatever individuals want to do because they have “freedom”. Freedom has a larger meaning to it. In “The Declaration of Independence” by Thomas Jefferson, “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls, “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” by Olaudah Equiano, and “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by Jonathan Edwards all suggest that freedom is the act of being free, and it stands for everyone having an equal opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In Thomas Jefferson’s famous writing “The Declaration of Independence,” it talks about individuals having freedom. In this document, the first few lines speak volumes to many people; ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ (pg 134). This quote is the most famous line of the Declaration. This quote was intended to remind people that citizens have the same rights as political leaders. Though this had not been the case in Britain or in their American colonies, the Founding Fathers wanted to make sure that our country would be this way. In our society, every individual has basic rights, that are obvious and should not be taken away. Freedom for example is one of those rights.

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The tension and conflicts arise between freedom and liberty. Everyday people try to “escape” to become free. That’s how Jeannette Walls feels in “ The Glass Castle”. Jeanette’s childhood was full of adversity. Jeanette and her siblings grew up having a lot of responsibility, unlike their father. Rex, chief of freedom, had the freedom of spending all the families money on gambling and drinking alcohol. Providing food for his family wasn’t a priority. Rex has full freedom from responsibility. Because of her father, Jeannette didn’t have the freedom she deserved. Jeannette shows us that her and her siblings would rather have security over freedom because in their childhood they would always find themselves in a state of fear due to their parent’s lack of security. After going through those hardships, Jeannette wanted to find a way out. Jeannette gains freedom when moves to New York, which was the best thing for her. The emphasis on freedom and independence shapes Jeannette to be the influential writer, and person she is today. Jeannette is finally able to resolve the conflicts with her family, and make peace following her traumatic childhood. By the end of the book, Jeannette finally has freedom, and was living a new enjoyable life. The purpose of having a free lifestyle and knowing our purpose helps us define ourselves and goals.

“The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano”, is like reading a change from freedom into slavery, and back to freedom. Olaudah Equiano was kidnapped at age 11 from his home in West Africa. Olaudah Equiano said, “This produced copious perspirations, so that the air soon became unfit for respiration, from a variety of loathsome smells,….the groans of the dying, rendered the whole a scene of horror almost inconceivable.’ (pg. 153). Equiano is explaining the harsh conditions of life on the ships on the Middle Passage. After his capture, Equiano was sold into slavery and shipped to America. On this trip, Olaudah tells that the conditions on the ship were terrible and many slaves did not make it to America alive. Olaudah made it to America. He thought he was going to eaten and killed, but instead he wanted to work for them. Freedom was achieved when they landed on land.

People must turn to God for forgiveness before it is too late. Jonathan Edwards uses graphic words in his sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. He uses those graphic words to describe hell. In his sermon, he used images of God holding sinners above “pits of hell” (pg. 75). He uses this image to show the congregation there is a light at the end of the tunnel if your on Christs’ side. Jonathan was persuading his audience that believing in God, would help individuals and God will open the doors for you. He was trying to torment sinners to escape the fiery pits of hell. Jonathan teaches listeners about the terrors of hell, dangers of sin, and being lost. He emphasizes the wrath of God to show his audience the danger they will face if they don’t turn to him. Despite the harsh conditions Christ went through so humans can be saved, the only hope for anyone wishing to escape hell is through Christ. In “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” the choice is either heaven or hell. Compare that to having freedom, or being enslaved. Jonathan achieves freedom from hell since he is on Christs side.

“We live in a great country with freedoms like no other” In America, we pride ourselves on being free. Americans have the freedom to be who they want to be, and to live the dream without any restrictions getting in the way. The act of being free stands for freedom, and meaning everyone should have equal opportunities in life. In order to keep individuals freedom, Americans should remember, in order to live a happy life full of freedom it requires not only liberty and choices Americans make, but it also brings responsibilities that come with those choices.

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Defining Freedom in Literature. (2022, Jan 12). Retrieved from

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