In Narrative, Frederick Douglass describes his personal experience as a slave and how slavery is dehumanizing. As Douglass strives for freedom from slavery, both mentally and physically, he explains each of his masters and how they change throughout their lives of being slave holders. Douglas argues that slavery is not only physically and mentally detrimental to the slave but additionally, the slave owner.
The Golden Rule found in Luke 6:31 says, “Do unto others as you have them do upon you”. During the early 1800’s humans were brutally abused by other humans. In 1844, Frederick Douglass illustrates his brutal time as a slave through his narrative The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass. Douglass writes his story using rhetorical elements to convey that slavery should be abandoned because it takes a mental and physical toll on the slaves plus, that slaves need to try and escape from slavery.
His “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave”, (Document G) makes emotional reading (lurid descriptions like "bitterest dregs of slavery" or "broken in body, mind, and soul" elicited reactions of disgust and dejection, which is the what abolitionists were hoping for) and showed that ultimately a slave, long thought to be a possession and less than human, was very much a person with reason and intellect. It provides unsurmountable proof that like any man, a slave deserved a life of dignity and liberty. His work shed light on the constant hard-working and abusive lifestyle that slaves
As Frederick saw an opportunity to become free, he worked hard to accomplish it. Masters and slaveholders believe teaching slaves is wrong, but with Douglass’s
Douglass encountered multiple harsh realities of being enslaved. For example, the ex-slave was practically starved to death by his masters on multiple occasions. In fact, “[He was] allowed less than a half of a bushel of corn-meal per week, and very little else...It was not enough for [him] to subsist upon...A great many times [he had] been nearly perishing with hunger” (pg 31). Douglass managed to overcome the maltreatment of his wretched slave owners through the eventual attainment of freedom. The injustice imposed upon the African-American slaves by their owners was the crux of Douglass’s motivation to escape this inhumane life. Adolescents in today’s society could use Frederick’s determination as an example of moving forward to better oneself or one’s situation regardless of
Because of this, he successfully creates a contrast between what the slave owners think of and treat the slaves and how they are. Douglass says that slave’s minds were “starved by their cruel masters”(Douglass, 48) and that “they had been shut up in mental darkness” (Douglass, 48) and through education, something that they were deprived of, Frederick Douglass is able to open their minds and allow them to flourish into the complex people that they are. By showing a willingness to learn to read and write, the slaves prove that they were much more than what was forced upon them by their masters.
In “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass”, Douglass narrates in detail the oppressions he went through as a slave before winning his freedom. In the narrative, Douglass gives a picture about the humiliation, brutality, and pain that slaves go through. We can evidently see that Douglass does not want to describe only his life, but he uses his personal experiences and life story as a tool to rise against slavery. He uses his personal life story to argue against common myths that were used to justify the act of slavery. Douglass invalidated common justification for slavery like religion, economic argument and color with his life story through his experiences torture, separation, and illiteracy, and he urged for the end of slavery.
Frederick Douglass’s narrative provides a first hand experience into the imbalance of power between a slave and a slaveholder and the negative effects it has on them both. Douglass proves that slavery destroys not only the slave, but the slaveholder as well by saying that this “poison of irresponsible power” has a dehumanizing effect on the slaveholder’s morals and beliefs (Douglass 40). This intense amount of power breaks the kindest heart and changes the slaveholder into a heartless demon (Douglass 40). Yet these are not the only ways that Douglass proves what ill effect slavery has on the slaveholder. Douglass also uses deep characterization, emotional appeal, and religion to present the negative effects of slavery.
In the Narrative Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass, he uses this text to explain his purpose in “throwing light on the American slave system”, or show it for what it really is, as well as show his position on how he strongly believes slavery is an issue that needs to be addressed and how it differs from those who defended slavery, with experiences from his own life to support his argument.
The Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass shows the imbalance of power between slaves and their masters. In his book, Douglass proves that slavery is a destructive force not only to the slaves, but also for the slaveholders. “Poison of the irresponsible power” that masters have upon their slaves that are dehumanizing and shameless, have changed the masters themselves and their morality(Douglass 39). This amount of power and control in contact with one man breaks the kindest heart and the purest thoughts turning the person evil and corrupt. Douglass uses flashbacks that illustrate the emotions that declare the negative effects of slavery.
“One who is a slaveholder at heart never recognizes a human being in a slave” (Angelina Grimke). This quote was created to show the effect that slavery had on not only the slave, but the slaveholder. The slaveholder would dehumanize the slave to the point where the human was no longer recognizable; instead, the slave was property. Throughout this autobiography, Frederick Douglass uses language to portray the similarities and differences between the two sides. He allows the reader to spend a day in the life of a slave to see the effects from it. Within “My Bondage and My Freedom,” Douglass uses diction throughout the autobiography to display his tone of understanding, and how slavery affects both the slave and the slave holder which causes the mood of frustration for the reader.
Douglass uses paradox to demonstrate that slavery degragrates the slaverholder. When Douglass under Mr. Sever’s care he described that: “He was less cruel, less profane…He whipped, but seemed to take no pleasure in it.”(Douglass 24). Most slaveholders are characterized to be cruel and inhuman because of the whipping and the way they treated the slaves. However Douglass points out that it is not the fault of the slave owner but because of the slaves since Mr. Sever “[took] no pleasure in it”. He continues to develop the corruption of the slaveholder when Mr. Plummer: “the louder she screamed, the harder he whipped; and where theblood ran fastest, there he whipped longest.”(Douglass 20). Mr. Plummer is the typical slaverholder is the outcome
Slavery is equally a mental and a physical prison. Frederick Douglass realized this follow-ing his time as both a slave and a fugitive slave. Douglass was born into slavery because of his mother’s status as a slave. He had little to go off regarding his age and lineage. In the excerpt of the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass An American Slave,” Douglass discusses the horrors of being enslaved and a fugitive slave. Through Douglass’s use of figurative language, diction and repetition he emphasizes the cruelty he experiences thus allowing readers to under-stand his feelings of happiness, fear and isolation upon escaping slavery.
Frederick Douglass was a great writer, but he wasn’t always. He was an escaped slave who used that in his speeches as a topic to gain the attention of his audience. His audience was a seemingly sympathetic one and got to them through rhetorical questions. Douglass wanted to convey the message that there are many changes that need to be made.
Hope and fear, two contradictory emotions that influence us all, convicted Frederick Douglass to choose life over death, light over darkness, and freedom over sin. Douglass, in Chapter ten, pages thirty-seven through thirty-nine, of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, utilizes various rhetorical techniques and tone shifts to convey his desperation to find hope in this time of misery and suffering. Mr. Covey, who Douglass has been sent to by his master to be broken, has succeeded in nearly tearing all of Douglass’s dreams of freedom away from him. To expound on his desires to escape, Douglass presents boats as something that induces joy to most but compels slaves to feel terror. Given the multiple uses of repetition, antithesis, indirect tone shifts, and various other rhetorical techniques, we can see Douglass relaying to his audience the hardships of slavery through ethos, the disheartening times that slavery brings, and his breakthrough of determination to obtain freedom.