Pedagogy of the Oppressed

by

Paulo Freire

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The Oppressor Character Analysis

The oppressor is an important part of Freire’s conception of oppression. For Freire, the oppressor holds power over the oppressed and actively prevents them from having freedom. Oppressors rely on a permanent and unequal social system to keep their power and they manipulate the views of oppressed people to make the oppressed invested in a system that keeps them down. However, oppressors also deny themselves freedom in the process of denying others, which makes them unable to become free. Therefore, oppressed people must liberate oppressors in order to make society free.

The Oppressor Quotes in Pedagogy of the Oppressed

The Pedagogy of the Oppressed quotes below are all either spoken by The Oppressor or refer to The Oppressor. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Bloomsbury edition of Pedagogy of the Oppressed published in 2000.
Preface Quotes

This volume will probably arouse negative reactions in a number of readers. Some will regard my position vis-à-vis the problem of human liberation as purely idealistic… Others will not (or will not wish to) accept my denunciation of a state of oppression that gratifies the oppressors. Accordingly, this admittedly tentative work is for radicals.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressor
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 1 Quotes

This, then, is the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well. The oppressors, who oppress, exploit, and rape by virtue of their power, cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressor, The Oppressed
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

Liberation is thus a childbirth, and a painful one. The man or woman who emerges is a new person, viable only as the oppressor-oppressed contradiction is superseded by the humanization of all people. Or to put it another way, the solution of this contradiction is born in the labor which brings into the world this new being: no longer oppressor, no longer oppressed, but human in the process of achieving freedom.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressor, The Oppressed
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

Any situation in which “A” objectively exploits “B” or hinders his and her pursuit of self-affirmation as a responsible person is one of oppression. Such a situation in itself constitutes violence, even when sweetened by false generosity, because it interferes with the individual’s ontological and historical vocation to be more fully human.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressor, The Oppressed
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

Indeed, the interests of the oppressors lie in “changing the consciousness of the oppressed, not the situation which oppresses them”; for the more the oppressed can be led to adapt to that situation, the more easily they can be dominated.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressor, The Oppressed
Related Symbols: Banking
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

Problem-posing education does not and cannot serve the interests of the oppressor. No oppressive order could permit the oppressed to begin to question: Why?

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressor, The Oppressed
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

Prior to the emergence of the people there is no manipulation (precisely speaking), but rather total suppression. When the oppressed are almost completely submerged in reality, it is unnecessary to manipulate them. In the antidialogical theory of action, manipulation is the response of the oppressor to the new concrete conditions of the historical process.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressor, The Oppressed
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:

In cultural invasion it is essential that those who are invaded come to see their reality with the outlook of the invaders rather than their own; for the more they mimic the invaders, the more stable the position of the latter becomes.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressor, The Oppressed
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Oppressor Character Timeline in Pedagogy of the Oppressed

The timeline below shows where the character The Oppressor appears in Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
Maintaining and Overthrowing Oppression Theme Icon
...of this, the most important task of oppressed people is to liberate themselves (and their oppressors) from an unjust system. When oppressors appear to help oppressed people, Freire argues that they... (full context)
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
...Beginning the struggle for liberation in this way is difficult, for both oppressed people and oppressors who become aware of their problematic role in society. But Freire argues that the concrete... (full context)
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
Static History vs. Fluid History Theme Icon
Maintaining and Overthrowing Oppression Theme Icon
Dialectics Theme Icon
...the world. When only one occurs, true liberation is not possible. Freire points out that oppressors use a variety of techniques to dissuade oppressed people from critical reflection: if oppressed people... (full context)
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Maintaining and Overthrowing Oppression Theme Icon
...oppressed, for Freire, is designed to help people regain their humanity. A pedagogy led by oppressors, like traditional Western education, cannot truly help oppressed people because it is a product of... (full context)
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
Maintaining and Overthrowing Oppression Theme Icon
A key part of the first stage of Freire’s pedagogy involves understanding the consciousnesses of oppressors and oppressed people, and especially the inner conflicts of oppressed people. Freire defines oppression as... (full context)
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
Maintaining and Overthrowing Oppression Theme Icon
Freire then examines the oppressor consciousness in greater detail. More than anything, oppressors prioritize “their right to live in peace”—but... (full context)
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Maintaining and Overthrowing Oppression Theme Icon
...confidence and conviction when they learn about the causes of oppression, and see that their oppressors can be vulnerable. A key part of liberation is this movement from passive acceptance to... (full context)
Chapter 2
Education Theme Icon
Maintaining and Overthrowing Oppression Theme Icon
...world as it is, instead of questioning it or trying to change it. This helps  oppressors, who want to prevent oppressed people from understanding the true nature of oppression. Freire argues... (full context)
Chapter 3
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
Maintaining and Overthrowing Oppression Theme Icon
...world and create new ways of organizing society. This faith must take into account the oppressors’ efforts to prevent oppressed people from using that power. When done correctly, dialogue should lead... (full context)
Static History vs. Fluid History Theme Icon
Maintaining and Overthrowing Oppression Theme Icon
Dialectics Theme Icon
...who benefit from the situation, and others who are harmed by it. In this context, oppressors see the freedom of oppressed people as a limit to their power. According to Freire,... (full context)
Chapter 4
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
Maintaining and Overthrowing Oppression Theme Icon
Conquest. “Antidialogical action” is a way of changing culture that serves the interests of oppressors. The most important aspect of antidialogical action is conquest: oppressors try to control people and... (full context)
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
Maintaining and Overthrowing Oppression Theme Icon
Divide and Rule. Oppressors divide and isolate oppressed people to prevent them from organizing together for liberation. This creates... (full context)
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
Maintaining and Overthrowing Oppression Theme Icon
Manipulation. Oppressors use manipulation to control oppressed people and to prevent them from challenging the oppressors’ power.... (full context)
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Maintaining and Overthrowing Oppression Theme Icon
Cultural Invasion. In cultural invasion, oppressors impose their own values and beliefs onto an oppressed culture. Cultural invasion makes oppressed peoples’... (full context)
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
Maintaining and Overthrowing Oppression Theme Icon
...here, Freire discusses “dialogical action,” which is what revolutionary leaders should use to attack the oppressors’ antidialogical methods. Revolutionary leaders must have the support, dialogue, and trust of oppressed people to... (full context)
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
Maintaining and Overthrowing Oppression Theme Icon
Unity for Liberation. While oppressors see unity as dangerous, revolutionary leaders must seek unity in every part of the liberation... (full context)
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Maintaining and Overthrowing Oppression Theme Icon
...they are acting out of love  and faith in the oppressed. Freire points out that oppressors do organize themselves apart from the people, which is why revolutionary leaders must organize “themselves... (full context)
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
Maintaining and Overthrowing Oppression Theme Icon
...behind his cultural action theory: it is necessary to theorize methods for freedom because the oppressors need to theorize methods for domination. This theory of dialogical action is the direct result... (full context)