Frederick Douglass Rhetorical Analysis Essay

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Frederick Douglass was a slave from Maryland who, through luck and intelligence, was able to escape slavery at 20 years old. In his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, he describes how it felt being a slave throughout his childhood and adolescence, as well as the traumatizing conditions on plantations. Douglass also discusses how he learned to read and write, which causes him to consider his position in slavery and helps to inspire his escape. Nevertheless, once he arrives in New York, Douglass’s hope quickly fades as he is faced with the reality of his situation; he is all alone in a place where he could easily be caught and returned to slavery, making the efforts of his escape in vain. In the excerpt from his autobiography, …show more content…

Once he arrives in New York, Douglass feels relieved due to his newfound freedom and independence; he relates it as being the “highest” excitement he ever felt. Describing the excitement in that manner illustrates the level of happiness he had to escape, regardless of his current uncertainty. To be so enthusiastic without knowing what lies ahead must be an indication of his terrible conditions while in slavery. His excitement is thus effectively conveyed because most people can empathize with a condition so bad that anything seems better, and can especially sympathize with slavery, allowing readers to fully grasp why he feels so strongly about escaping. Shortly after, Douglass’s excitement fades and he is unable to communicate with others in the town due to his fears of going back into slavery. Through saying he has a general “distrust” of all colored men, and thinks of every white man as an “enemy” who wants to send him back south, Douglass shows that he feels as if everyone is against him. This paranoia forces Douglass to fear each person he sees, making it incredibly hard to make friends and creating his feelings of loneliness. Friendship, like any relationship, requires trust, and his “distrust,” as illustrated by his motto “trust no man,” does not allow for easy communication. Subsequently, …show more content…

He explains how he is “in the midst of thousands,” and yet a “stranger,” cannot tell the other African Americans in New York of his “sad conditions,” and is starving, emphasizing that he has nothing solely because he is a “fugitive slave.” The repetition creates a feeling of something being unattainable: he can see the possibility of friends and food, and yet, they are just out of reach. For Douglass to see what he wants but be unable to achieve it indefinitely must make him feel alone; this readers can understand and have likely experienced, thus effectively communicating his loneliness. This is further illustrated through Douglass saying how he is “wanting” shelter and bread, but is unable to have it. It is easy for readers to tell that the reason he cannot have bread or a house is based on the belief that he is a “fugitive slave,” thus closing himself off to others who could provide a home, and preventing him from getting a job which could give him money. Instead, Douglass has nothing because of his fear of being taken back into slavery. Douglass also shows how he has nothing when he says how he is “without” home, friends, money, and credit. Being without so much that makes life pleasant must create fear and uncertainty, considering he has no guarantee of food, shelter, or companionship. By repeating the phrase without, the reader is left asking if Douglass has anything at all, to which the

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