Frederick Douglass

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Frederick Douglass once said, “I didn’t know I was a slave until I found out I couldn’t do the things I wanted.” Frederick Douglass author and protagonist of the Narrative of Frederick Douglass was a slave that suffered over twenty years of physical abuse, deprivation, and starvation under the rusty, blood crusted chains of slavery. Frederick Douglass is a former American slave who taught himself to be a brilliant writer and orator who sparked the abolitionist movement. He writes about his former life, in which he had suffered through years of starvation, dehydration, and deprivation of the basic necessities of life. However, because of those years of suffering, Douglass was able to be one of the few slaves that revealed the ugly truth behind slavery. Douglass shows the audience through the use of literary devices that ignorance is a tool of slavery and knowledge is the path to freedom. Frederick Douglass writes using litotes, antithesis, and chiasmus to explain the use of ignorance as a fetter and the suppression of knowledge to conceal the path to freedom. Frederick Douglass emphasizes the use of ignorance to prevent slaves from obtaining knowledge about freedom and slavery through the use of litotes. After Frederick Douglass reads through “The Colombian Orator,” he realizes the truth about ignorance, freedom, and knowledge. Douglass writes, “It was this everlasting thinking of my condition that tormented me. There was no getting rid of it. […] The silver trump of freedom had roused my soul to eternal wakefulness. Freedom now appeared, to disappear no more forever” (Douglass 24). Douglass realizes that freedom was within his reach and nothing could make the overwhelming urge to reach out and grab freedom disappear from the depths of his mind. Litotes are words that negate their opposite, similar to being lost in a maze. A path that can be created as a simple, straight line, is warped into a complex creation of passages that merge and intertwine with one another. The slave-owners don’t want the slaves to realize the truth about ignorance, knowledge, and freedom. So, the slave-owners create an elaborate metaphorical maze. The maze is a barrier that prevents the slaves from exiting the world of ignorance and entering the world of freedom. Every time a slave enters the maze, they are bound to run into obstacles such as walls of ignorance and dead ends of pain which are obstacles that slave-owners create in hopes of discouraging them. Slave-owners whip, torture, and even kill slaves that enter the maze that enters the world of knowledge. Slave-owners will try to discourage slaves so that the slave retraces his steps back into the world of ignorance. However, this is not the case for Frederick Douglass; he makes it through the entire maze despite the whipping and the walls of ignorance that fetter them, and pursuit a world of knowledge rather than the world of ignorance he once lived in. Once a slave enters the world of knowledge, the slave-owners can no longer pull them back into the world of ignorance, and the slave can freely roam between the two worlds and expand his knowledge. As they do so, the truth about knowledge, freedom, and slavery are unlocked from their cryptic chest and revealed to the slave. Douglass uses litotes to exemplify the walls that slave-owners put up in hopes of keeping their slaves ignorant of knowledge, many times succeed; however, when a slave overcomes these walls, the idea of knowledge and freedom enter their mind and the slave-owners no longer have the power to remove those ideas. Slave-owners use ignorance as a wall to prevent slaves from learning about the truth behind slavery, freedom and knowledge; however, once a slave overcomes the fetters, the slave-owner can no longer control the slave’s thoughts and actions. Once a slave enters the realm of knowledge and understands, he/she begins to mentally rebel against their slave-owners because their newly earned knowledge clashes with the cruel...
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