Frederick Douglass Diction

Words: 965
Pages: 4

In his book, “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass”(1845), Frederick Douglass details his life, opinions, and escape from slavery through masterful writing and powerful language. In this passage, Douglass uses a variety of complex rhetorical strategies to convince the reader that slavery is cruel, illogical, and unchristian, as well as persuade them to speak out against the enslavement of his people.
Douglass begins this passage with strong diction, emphasizing what slavery is and how it affects him. He writes, ‘You are loosed from your moorings… I am fast in my chains.” He does this in order to establish that his audience is free, while he is held by physical, and metaphorical chains. He continues in this pattern of comparing the
…show more content…
By saying he is “confined in bands of iron”, Douglass proves to his audience, predominantly whites, that there is no better person than a slave to speak on the behalf of slaves. Knowing that whites did not trust slaves, though, he employs the use of diction to prove he is of no less intelligence than his readers. Of his vast vocabulary, words like “galant”, “turbid”, and “betwixt” stand out, catching the reader off guard if they did not realize his intellect before. Appealing to logos, Douglass makes it hard for his white readers to rationalize enslaving a man of the same, or higher, intelligence as themselves. In addition to this, Douglass understands that his readers value Christianity, often using it hypocritically to justify slavery. He goes on to compare freedom to being “angelic” and slavery to “the hottest hell”, making his religious readers imagine what hell would be like and what qualities were deserved of a sentence to hell. Moreover, Douglass uses rhetorical questions such as, “Is there any God? Why am I a slave?” to appeal to the religious pathos of the reader. Since these lines establish Douglass as a religious man, readers are forced to rationalize the enslavement of another Christian. In using this method, Douglas hoped to make his readers realize their hypocritical use of religion …show more content…
Douglass utilizes an eye catching example of juxtaposition when he writes, “I will run away… get caught or get clear.” This line compares to opposites, being caught and escaping slavery, to demonstrate the extremity of Douglass’ opinions. He writes this as if it is a warning to his write readers, informing them that he will be rebelling whether they agree with it or not. Douglass continues and compares his freedom to that of a boat. In a cruel sense of irony, the very tool that brought his people into enslavement is the symbol of his escape. This stresses the severity of his situation, creating the idea that anything is better than slavery. Similarly, Douglass writes, “I will try to bear up under the yoke,” in an allusion to the restraint of an ox. This emphasizes the dehumanization of slavery while creating gruesome imagery in the reader's mind. Douglass uses these in a final attempt to convince the reader of his unimaginable suffering and a need for change. In no less importance, Douglass makes a final appeal to the pasts of the readers, reminding them of their own struggle for freedom in “all boys are bound to someone.” If nothing else, this line makes the audience sympathetic towards a freedom cause and creates pangs of guilt within them for subjecting others to the same struggles