Fredrick Douglass Passage Rhetorical Analysis
In the Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, Douglass uses rhetorical devices to convey his meaning that slavery is the worst possible experience for humanity in a contemptuous tone. Douglass states, “the wretchedness of slavery, and the blessedness of freedom, were perpetually before me.” This use of antithesis in parallel structure is used to convey his meaning by contrasting the two ideas of slavery and freedom, showing how extremely awful or beautiful each is and to show the differences between them. The use of the word “wretchedness” creates a contemptuous tone in this quote. He then goes on to state that upon arriving in New York he felt “like one who had escaped a den of hungry lions.” This simile is used to show the extent of his fear when in the south, showing how slavery is the worst experience for humankind. This comparison is made using a scornful tone, shown by the dehumanizing of the South through slavery. Next, Douglass explains that during his stay in the North “[he] was afraid to speak to any one for fear of speaking to any one for fear of speaking to the wrong one, and thereby falling into the hands of money-loving kidnappers, whose business it was to lie in wait for the panting fugitive, as the ferocious beats of the forest lie in wait for their prey.” Douglass writes this long sentence for the rhetorical effect of imitating the style of a person ranting, or speaking uncontrollably due to fear to show the horror of slavery. This is written in a bitter or scornful tone through his descriptions of the fugitive kidnappers. Douglass also includes that “[he] saw in every white man an enemy and in every colored man cause for distrust.” This almost equal parallelism is used to compare the common fear Douglass had for both races. The negative outlook on both races shows Douglass’s disdainful tone. Douglass further explains his outlook when he states his motto at the time was “Trust no man!” This...
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