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.
Throughout the narrative, the author includes his personal stories about experiencing the violence of slavery first-hand. For example, on page 20, he writes about the first time he witnessed a slave, his own aunt, getting the whip. “The louder she screamed, the harder he whipped; and where the blood ran fastest, there he whipped longest…I remember the first time I ever witnessed this horrible exhibition… It struck me with awful force. It was the blood-stained gate, the entrance to the hell of slavery…” The author including his experience of his aunts whipping, in detail, appeals to the emotions of the reader. By appealing to the emotions of the reader, Frederick Douglass can build his argument of how awful slavery was and how the slave owners used Christianity to justify what they did.
In the 1700-1800’s, the use of African American slaves for backbreaking, unpaid work was at its prime. Despite the terrible conditions that slaves were forced to deal with, slave owners managed to convince themselves and others that it was not the abhorrent work it was thought to be. However, in the mid-1800’s, Northern and southern Americans were becoming more aware of the trauma that slaves were facing in the South. Soon, an abolitionist group began in protest, but still people doubted and questioned it. When Frederick Douglass published his self-written narrative, people finally got a fully comprehensive view of the life of a slave. To debunk the mythology of slavery, Douglass presents the cold, hard truth, displays slaves true intelligence,
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
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, written by Frederick Douglass himself, is a brutally honest portrayal of slavery’s dehumanizing capabilities. By clearly connecting with his audience’s emotions, Douglass uses numerous rhetorical devices, including anecdotes and irony, to argue the depravity of slavery.
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.
“That this little book may do something toward throwing light on the American slave system”, and that Frederick Douglass does in his eponymous autobiography. Douglass throws light by dispelling the myths of the slave system, which received support from all parts of society. To dispel these myths Douglass begins to construct an argument composed around a series of rhetorical appeals and devices. Douglass illustrates that slavery is dehumanizing, corrupting, and promotes Christian hypocrisy.
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.
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.
What common themes bond together the literary works of the 1800’s? Frederick Douglass and Kate Chopin both realized that people were not being treated fairly and thus it influenced their writing. Through personal experiences and observations Frederick Douglass conveyed how African Americans in My Bondage and My Freedom were treated unfairly. Kate Chopin used the plot to show how women were treated unfairly in “The Story of an Hour”.
When slavery was abolished in 1865, it was a critical turning point in the journey towards equality for African Americans. Prior to the eradication of slavery writers like Frederick Douglass sought to free millions of slaves in America. While slavery was a well-known and growing problem in the south, it wasn’t as widely recognized in the north. In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave Douglass recounts his experiences and tribulations as a slave. In the narrative Douglass effectively uses rhetorical imagery, antithesis, and irony in order to expose the harsh reality of slavery during the 19th century.
The narrative of Frederick Douglas breaks down the very mechanisms used to enslave African Americans; from the deprival of education to an over use and desensitization of violence. What also occurs: is the realization that slavery as a system is able to damage those who are in power and use slavery. Corrupting the morals and empathy of white Americans who come in contact with the societal structure of enslavement. The same cycle which keeps African Americans from breaking free also keeps slave owners on a continuous path of cruelty. As an industry slavery seeks to survive and to do so it must have full support and no opposition; by both parties being changed to fit their roles it is able to do so. By taking the rights away from African
In life, humans have many different traits that describes themself. In the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, by Frederick Douglass shows life a slave in the nineteenth century. In the story, Douglass brings us back in time to show his experiences of the hypocrisy of human nature. Disputes with Douglass and his masters are seen throughout the story showing both the good and bad traits of human nature. American literature of the nineteenth century reveals that human nature embodies contrasting traits such as love and cruelty through the uses of literary devices.
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.