Frederick Douglass And One Day Analysis

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Frederick Douglass’ The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich were influential works that challenged the oppressive societal and governmental institutions of their times. Although they shared a common purpose, similar themes, and similar context surrounding their creation, Douglass and Solzhenitsyn achieve their purpose through differing rhetorical elements. Douglass’ Narrative was published in 1845, as the conflict between anti-slavery and pro-slavery forces reached new heights leading up to the Civil War. Douglass’ purpose in writing his narrative is unabashedly anti-slavery. It was intended to reach a wide audience through the press, and to garner support for the…show more content…
Douglass wrote his narrative in a much more receptive environment; although slavery was still legal and widely supported in the South, an equal proportion of Americans supported the abolition of slavery. This was especially true in the North, where Douglass’ narrative was primarily distributed via the press. As such, Douglass was free to criticize slavery without restraint, something that’s reflected in his emotional writing style. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is plainly calling for support for the abolitionist movement. Solzhenitsyn published One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich under the premiership of Nikita Khrushchev, who lead the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death. Although Khrushchev led a less harsh Soviet government compared to Stalin, which is what allowed One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich to be published at all, the Soviet government still struck down against political dissidence. As a result, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was less explicitly critical of the government and inciteful of action when compared to The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. In fact, the first publication of Solzhenitsyn’s novel was heavily censored. Despite the fact that Solzhenitsyn’s hands were comparably more tied compared to Douglass’,…show more content…
Both Douglass and Denisovich write to criticize an oppressive institution in their society, and focus on a theme of “human dignity,” a similarity stemming from their experiences with said oppression. However, Douglass’ more receptive audience in the antebellum North gave him more leeway to incite action, compared to Solzhenitsyn’s residence in the USSR. These differences are reflected in the tone of each work; Douglass raises awareness about the brutality of black slavery and garners support for the abolitionist movement through an active narrative voice designed to strike an emotional chord with the audience, while Solzhenitsyn expresses his criticism by showing his audience the hopeless atmosphere of the gulag through a subdued
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