Frederick Douglass Slavery

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From the very beginning of the seventeenth century, America depended on slaves for free labor in order to make a considerable profit. These slaves were not treated as normal people though; they were sold into a life of no rights, cruel punishment, and rigorous work schedules. In his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, freed slave Frederick Douglass shares his personal accounts with slavery in order to reveal the harsh truth slavery hides to the public. Throughout his narrative, Douglass uses specific maritime allusions as well as vivid diction, oxymorons and anaphora to persuade the reader to think more philosophically about oppression and in turn ask the question, ‘what does it truly take to be free?’. Throughout the…show more content…
He starts off by comparing this feeling of both happiness and relief to that of sailor or mariner who has been rescued from the pursuit of pirates. Though this feeling of “...highest excitement…” (Douglass 79) may assure the reader of his true freedom and happiness, Douglass goes on to compare his emotions regarding escape to what, “ may imagine an unarmed mariner to feel when he is rescued by a friendly man-of-war from the pursuit of a pirate.” (Douglass 79). This deliberate use of oxymoron regarding “...friendly man-of-war…” (Douglass 79) creates a false sense of security for the reader, as it first reassures them of his escape from ‘pirates’ but also remarks that Douglass is not completely free. Though he says that he has been rescued, Douglass is saved not just by an old ship, but by a “...friendly man of war…” (Douglass 79). It is also to be noted that a man-of-war is another name for a British battle and though, yes, it is called a ‘friendly’ battleship it is still a battleship thus signifying that Douglass is in fact rescued, but he is not completely free of his so-called ‘pirates’. By employing the use of this oxymoron, Douglass urges the reader to rethink what it means to truly escape from enslavement and that even if one does abscond from one set ‘pirates’ it does not mean that they have truly escaped oppression entirely but have been rescued by a ‘friendlier’ or ‘lesser’ form of said
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