Emotional Irony In Frederick Douglass

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Emotional Argumentation: The Rhetorical Genius of Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass’ use of vivid imagery, metaphor, parallelism, and irony in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave was even more impressive and effective in his time than now. Graphic visual and sensory imagery grabbed polite society’s attention to demonstrate the violence against slaves. Metaphors countered racial bias by equating violence across races. Irony emphasized the reality of religious, political, and social hypocrisy against black people. Each device is effective independently, but their placement augmented Douglass’ protest of slavery and racism. First, Douglass recounted his childhood using imagery and metaphor to establish an understanding
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While learning to read and write ultimately helped him escape, it caused him suffering beforehand. More thorough understanding of slavery made him angrier with his masters, less satisfied with complacency, and more anguished at his position. What he read was liberating and crushing simultaneously, and he detailed this ironic duality in describing his anguished emotions at the time. The writings themselves also prompted discussion of the irony in hypocritically oppressive slave owners who claim to be Americans for freedom and Christians for equality but force the opposites on slaves. Describing his stressful emotions, which happened to be situationally ironic, creates an effective emotional appeal to sympathy similar to the childhood chapters. Douglass also used verbal irony to denounce the contradictory and abusive behavior of his masters, which emotionally appealed to anger and ethically to shame; he achieved the same thing through situational irony which logically appealed to an audience well acclimated to sympathizing with a black man. Douglass’ use of irony appeals on multiple levels as he continues to protest slavery and move towards advanced devices, the latter of which will conclude when he recounts
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