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Compare Books-‘Notes from a Dead House’ and ‘The light and the Adventure of Haunted Convicts’

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Compare Books-‘Notes from a Dead House’ and ‘The light and the Adventure of Haunted Convicts’ 




Course:  Compare Books-‘Notes from a Dead House’ and ‘The light and the Adventure of Haunted Convicts’


Discussion and Research

In “Notes from a Dead House,” Fyodor Dostoyevsky outlined his experiences as a prisoner under penal colony in Siberia in 1849, where he was sentenced to serve a four-year jail term as a result of his socialistic beliefs. Also, in "The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict," Austin Reed summarized his life as an African American in prison during the 1850s. In both manuscripts, the authors highlighted how justice systems intentionally inflicted of pain and suffering on them. For that reason, Reed and Dostoyevsky deliberated on issues of 'freedom' and human dignity, underlining how prisons schemes violated human rights.

As depicted in LAHC and NDH, jail denied both Dostoyevsky and Reed their essential freedoms as they served time. According to Reed, during his incarceration at the New York's Auburn State Prison, he felt conditions were an added punishment, especially when under solitary confinement since it denied him a chance to move around. Dostoyevsky outlined how fellow prisoners facing hard labor could share words of hope as they looked forward to their release, underpinning their loss of free will. All this shows that authorities held Reed and Dostoyevsky accountable for their actions, therefore, deprived them liberty, impacting on their rights, for example, movement, which was an inevitable consequence of incarceration. Not only did imprisonment affect their freedom but also compromised their ability to speak up.

The commonality between LAHC and NDH outlined how Austin and Fyodor got imprisoned because of their willingness to fight for their freedom. For example, Reed recounted that while in indentured servitude, the farmer whipped him, reminding him of slavery; subsequently, outraged and wanting to be heard he burnt down a farmhouse, leading to his arrest. Besides, Dostoyevsky revealed that tired of status quo in Russia he joined a pro-socialist group that would fight against Emperor Nicholas I communistic ideologies. Hence, despite being in different geographical regions, both Fyodor and Austin were detained for rebelling against an unfair system that had infringed their civil rights. Apart from being deprived of right to be heard, they also experienced cruelty while in prison.

Torture was a widespread practice used by jail officials to curtail freedom of inmates and ensure they did not express their opinions. Reed pointed out that whipping and solitary confinements were among the methods used at Auburn State Prison to discourage detainees from exercising their civil rights. Also, Dostoyevsky stated that the Major issued severe punishment, notably through whipping prisoners who articulated their opinions through opposing forced labor. As a consequence, the authors explained how prison administrators used torture to curtail their freedom since different methods of punishment not only injured a person but maximized suffering. Other than torturous treatment, Austin and Fyodor faced the difficulty of sub-standard living conditions that dehumanized their existence while serving time.

Poor living conditions were another issue highlighted by Reed and Fyodor that affected their dignity and self-esteem. In his narration, Dostoyevsky noted that cruel detention conditions, including forced to lay on the floor without having any beddings, a practice that limited his willingness to respond to the punitive laws, making him rebellious and vulnerable to punishment from the Adjutant. Reed also stated that at Auburn State Prison authorities’...


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