Fredrick Douglass

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Fredrick Douglass Rhetorical Essay
Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass: An American Slave is a narrative autobiography written based on Fredrick Douglass’s experiences as a slave. He wrote this book with the purpose of revealing the injustice institution of slavery and to make the statement “slavery is unfair.” Fredrick Douglass supports his arguments about slavery by using pathos, or the appeal to the emotions of the audience, where he attempts to persuade the audience through gain of sympathy. This emotional appeal to the audience can be best shown through the examples of the treatment of his grandmother, the separation between him and his mother, and the beating of his brother.

Douglass uses an effective method of pathos when he talks about the story of his “grandma” and her death. On page sixty-three, Douglass says “My poor old grandmother, the devoted mother of twelve children, is left all alone, in yonder little hut before a few dim embers” (63). This is an excellent example of pathos because he attempts to appeal to the emotional side of the reader. He does this by using many expressive words such as tenderness, poor, old, and alone which causes the reader to feel sympathetic towards his grandma and her treatment. This reinforces his argument that slavery is a cruel and unfair practice because it makes the reader realize the truth behind the practice of slavery. He later emphasizes the fragility of his grandmother, and describes in much detail the suffering that she faced to again acquire the sympathy of the reader. He says “she falls, she groans, she dies, and none of her grandchildren present” (63). This quote illustrates to the readers the unfairness and the atrocity of slavery.

Another great example of Douglass’s appeal to the emotions of the audience is found on page three where he talks about his separation form his mother. On page three he says “ I never saw my mother, to know her as such, more than four or five times in my life”(3)....
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