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. Douglass uses many rhetorical metaphors to appeal and connect to the audience emotionally.
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.
Frederick Douglass recalls his time in slavery and employs the use of similes and antithesis to convey his state of mind when recounting his escape from slavery. First, Douglass utilizes figures of speech with similes to make his feelings more accessible to the reader. He states “I said I felt like one who had escaped a den of hungry lions.” This shows that Frederick was relieved that he finally escaped slavery. He was finally out of the evil and sad world. In addition to this, he incorporates the simile “Where he is every moment subjected to the terrible liability of being of being seized upon by his fellow-men, as the hideous crocodile seizes upon his prey” to share how it felt being a slave and how it felt being attacked by his slave owners.
Douglass for example emphasized the importance of education for slaves. Douglass is a first had observer of the strategy of slave owners to keep their slaves ignorant. By keeping slave uneducated they are unable to express the horrible things that happen to them to the world. Hugh Auld forces his wife to stop teaching Douglass to read (auld stopping teaching quote) , so Douglass teaches himself. For him learning to read was a major turning point in his quest for freedom and it enabled him to put out his book, which would inspire many to turn against slavery.
Stated in this quote: “ Mr. David Ruggles, whose vigilance, kindness, and perseverance, I will never forget. I am glad of an opportunity to express, as far as words can, the love and gratitude I bear him” (Douglass 64). This shows that Mr. Ruggles help Douglass in what to do now as a freeman and guided him through the right paths to take in his new journey in life. To sum the paragraph up Douglass had a great amount of happiness as a free man and for friends who guided him the way to righteousness. In conclusion, Frederick Douglass was a person who strived for freedom and made it through with the help of wanting to learn.
Douglass puts to use personification and metaphors to show the path needed to end slavery. When speaking on the state of slavery in current times Douglass mentions, “Great streams are not easily turned from channels, worn deep in the course of ages”. This language refers to the institution of slavery and the large changes needed to change it. The metaphor hopes to portray the task of ending slavery to the audience. In addition, Douglass states, “above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions!”.
Douglass, with realization of his wretched state, does become miserable, and it is true that a slave who acknowledges the unfairness of slavery is undesirable to masters. In fact, this statement conveys a sense of fear regarding the slave’s literacy; this man seems to know that a literate slave would cause the rebellion against the whites. Douglass’s literacy would enable him to have “an increasing awareness of and control over the social means by which people sustain discourse, knowledge, and reality” (Royer) and inspire him to work against such society. Indeed, Douglass has escaped slavery through his personal realization. His Narrative uses the literacy acquired
Of course, given the nature of the text, it would be a crime for him to not explain to those unaware of the business of slavery the details and logic behind all of it. Douglass’s goal was not to spread his life story in order to gain fame (although he did succeed in that regard), but to bring to the public knowledge the ugly truth of slavery, and call on the idle to take action against the exploitation of fellow human beings. In doing so, Douglass was sure to provide abolitionists what they had desired for so long: an educated slave to personify slavery (that sounds equally exploitative, and it might have been if Frederick Douglass not been intelligent enough to take matters into his own
Throughout the story he manages to stay quite neutral with his tone. He appears to be understanding of the slaveholder’s point of view. He took the time to step in the mistress’ shoes for a moment to understand what she was going through as well. An example of him being understanding is when Douglass stated that she was “benevolent.” He saw her kind side and was willing to recognize it. By using this diction, one can