Slave Narratives by Abolitionist Leader Frederick Douglass Essay

Submitted By ivageorgiev
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Although brought up in the shackles of slavery, work and motivation led the famous abolitionist Fredrick Douglass to achieve an impressive education and literacy level with which he was able to express the effect of slavery’s cruelty on humanity in his autobiography, speeches, and other lifes work. As was described in his narrative, Douglass began his initial education in Baltimore in secret after his mistress began to believe he would rebel if given the opportunity to educate himself. After reading news petitions by John Qunicy Adams, Douglas learned of the abolitionist movements against slavery, this further motivated him to enrich his education. Teaching, reading, reciting, and believing led Douglass to his success in learning. Through his works he was not only able to express the horrors of slavery and their effects, but he was able to do it in a manner that expressed his intelligence. This intelligence being his ability to write and speak on a level that of the same of educated whites presented by his many different uses of rhetoric and the structure of how he expressed this rhetoric.
“You would have to see it in order to believe it”, is a popular saying that is the quintessential basis of much of the rhetoric Douglass used in his writing. Hundreds of people may not be able to see the tragedy of slavery in substance, but a mental picture can be just as effective as any. Douglass’s ability to describe the raw disfigurement of human relationships with one another through physical contact on unreasonable basis gives his audience a deeper disgust towards slavery, and in thus, supports his life’s argument that slavery is wrong.
As a welcoming blow, Douglass began his novel with a brief introduction on who he was and his first encounters with the brutality of slavery. As the narrative began to unfold, Douglass introduced his masters and their treatment of the slaves they held in possession, one of these slaves being his Aunt Hester. As a young child Douglass witnessed his Aunt Hester’s whipping after she had disobeyed their master, he described the whipping as so, “He made her get upon the stool, and tied her hands to the hook…after rolling up his sleeves, he commenced to lay on the heavy cowskin, and soon warm, red blood (amid heart-rending shrieks from her, and horrid oaths from him) came dripping to the floor” (Douglass52). In general as a child, a small scratch on the knee can cause an uproar of tears and shaking fear, the growth of that scratch into puddles of blood shows the true contrast in the lives of people, and people who were deemed unfit to be labeled as people due to their skin color. Douglass uses this type of imagery to help a naïve audience understand how morally corrupt slavery truly is. The image of someone treating a person as nothing more than a slab of meat to beat on, the image of a person so hardheaded in a belief as to be ignorant enough to let a child see such dehumanization, as to dare speak to another human being in such a tone, is enough to leave disgust in a person for history and slavery as a whole.
Among other tactics Douglass used to persuade his audience that slavery is an unjust concept, Douglass used religious logos. At this time in America the mass majority of people both in the North and the South proclaimed to be of some Christian root. Douglass refers to religion in multiple instances throughout the novel in his metaphors. These metaphors help validate his underlining end point that although a souls packaging is different, both white and black serve the same God and in that will be equals in heaven, and therefore should be treated as so on Earth.
Douglas referenced the Christian religion multiple times throughout the text, and through this, showed the true right for equality that colored people have. “Those songs still follow me, to deepen my hatred of slavery, and quicken my sympathies for my brethren in bonds”(Douglass67) Douglass wrote as he described the songs the…