Rhetorical Analysis Of What To The American Slave Is Your Fourth Of July

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As a representative of slavery, Frederick Douglass in the speech, “What To The American Slave Is Your 4th Of July?”, denounces America’s disposition towards slavery, noting its emergence into a flagrantly hypocritical state. Douglass supports his denouncement by arguing that, to the African American slave, the Fourth of July stands merely reminiscent of the blatant injustice and cruelty they stand subject to every day. In hopes of change, the author’s purpose serves to advocate the human nature of slaves, in order to slander the nation’s misconduct and unveil the great sin and shame of America: slavery. Douglass’s formal writing style addresses his audience of Americans who observe the holiday, as well as others interested in the topic of slavery …show more content…

As a former slave and victim of continuous legalized discrimination, Douglass proceeds to label his selection to address the nation on Independence Day as inhuman mockery. Furthermore, Douglass declares that he cannot express felicity when the shrilling wails of his people, those bound by society’s chains, penetrate his consciousness, yet remain clouded beneath the explosion of fireworks to others. Likewise, the following paragraph of the speech defends those who society quiets, shaming the black character of America. Following the first of many indignant remarks, Douglass exercises an appeal to logic, presenting to the audience the absurd ratio of black to white men in America that face the punishment of death for crimes committed. Continuing the circular arrangement of his speech, an appeal to ethics appears through his references to the Constitution, the Bible, and God, implying that slaves, too, worship the Christian God, and thus being called upon to prove their manhood stands unreasonable. Furthermore, by listing infinitives rich with imagery, including, “to flay their flesh with the lash,” and, “to sunder their families,” Douglass creates …show more content…

Among the most prominent devices stand rhetorical questions, whose abundant use steers readers into objective introspection. Perhaps the most impactful rhetorical question asked by Douglass appears in the introduction of the speech, where he inquires, “Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?” Due to the inclusion of, “that Declaration of Independence,” opposed to, “the Declaration of Independence,” readers gain awareness of the wedge driven between Douglass’s people and the remainder of the nation. Not only that, but Douglass’s outlook receives support from the complementing rhetorical question: “What have I or those I represent to do with your national independence?” To continue, incomprehensive as to why blacks should manifest jubilance in the absence of true freedom, Douglass ironically inquires, “Who so stolid and selfish that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs?” Apart from rhetorical questions, Douglass enhances the effectiveness of his speech through the use of repetition, which initially appears through the excessive use of the pronouns “you” and “your.” In an earlier instance of repetition, Douglass affirms, “The rich inheritance of justice, liberty,

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