Frederick Douglass

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The American Slave

In Sharon McElwee’s literary analysis of Frederic Douglass literary piece, “The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, by Frederick Douglass,” Sharon breaks down the different key elements in Douglass’ story that make it so outstanding. Frederick Douglass is famous for his speech given during a time where slavery was still considered acceptable and was used by most wealthy white. Slavery was not viewed as cruel, but a valuable business that could earn them money. Although Douglass was not alone, his speech stands out among the others who were fighting for their freedom.

Sharon first notices the use of repetition that Douglass uses in his work. She claims that this theme of repetition allows the reader to focus primarily on the content, or message, rather than the literary structure that may sometimes be distracting. Douglass left little room for the imagination and made sure to reiterate and describe exactly what he was saying. She gathers from his works that Douglass wanted to get one main point across; that slavery is dehumanizing and an unfair practice that should be done away with. Because Douglass mentioned these two things numerous times, the reader is able to really connect with the purpose of Douglass argument.

Douglass would use words with negative connotation repeatedly throughout his descriptions to help emphasize the fact that nothing good was to be associated with slavery. Sharon even notes that each sentence has a formula that Douglass used to help eliminate any outside thought. Before the semicolon, the first word of each section is the, the second word is an adjective that ends in -er, the third word is either he or she, depending on the subject, and the final word of each section is a verb ending in -ed. This formula makes for easy reading, and again puts the emphasis on the act, allowing the reader to feel they are watching this event unfold in front of them and are able to create their own...
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