There is no question that times have changed drastically since the publication of Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass in 1845. The largest difference between modern day and the nineteenth century, however, is the hideous practice of slavery. Obviously today, nearly everyone realizes how repugnant the practice of slavery was. During the life of Frederick Douglass, though, slavery was simply an integral factor in the everyday lives of pre-Civil War American citizens. The daunting task to convince readers of how detrimental the practice of slavery is, is a mission that would be difficult even for an established white man let alone a recently freed slave. Frederick Douglass successfully reveals to his readers the dangers of slavery through his straightforward presentation of facts that he has learned through his own and others’ experiences, and this presentation forces the reader to examine their own stance in regards to slavery.
In order to appeal to an audience on such a controversial subject as slavery, Frederick Douglass masterfully employs the uses of ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos is a depiction of how competent the presenter of the information is to speak on the given topic. Frederick Douglass is certainly more than qualified to speak on the subject of slavery, having been a slave for a large portion of his life. One obstacle that he had to overcome in regards to his ethos was the fact that he was black. Many people at the time believed it was impossible for a former slave to write such a compelling work. However, with prefaces included from two notable white abolitionists, Douglass’s work was verified as his own. His ethos is also indisputable due to his ethics and how they appear in the narrative. Douglass simply presents gruesome and horrible first-hand accounts of injustices he has witnessed as a slave. His readers can then examine themselves and view if they have similar interpretations on the ethics of slavery. One such...
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