Douglass Analysis Essay
In Frederick Douglass’s autobiography, “Narrative of the LIfe of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” he illustrates his journey as a slave to influence the abolishment of the slave trade. Throughout the passage Douglass emphasizes pathos to reveal the cruelty of slavery, but further changes his syntax in the third paragraph to develop a more personal and emotional tone. He reinforces his claim through pathos, figurative language, and repetition.
Frederick Douglass uses several metaphors to portray his suffering. With metaphors he compares his pain and creates vivid imagery of how he feels. He feels as if, “You are freedom’s swift-winged angels, that fly round the world” to compare the free as easy-going angels that can go as they please. He further states, “I am confined in bands of iron” showing another metaphor. Although it is literal that his body is chained up, he also feels as he has no freedom in any human rights or opportunities. While the free are light angels that can do anything, he is weighed down by society emotionally and physically. Douglass again explains, “ I am left in the hottest hell of unending slavery.” Evidently, Douglass compares slavery to eternal damnation. He sees it as worse than death as he must continue suffering with no end. By using metaphors in the third paragraph, Douglass is able to show his experiences, appealing emotionally. It creates a terrifying and negative mood towards the reader. The reader is able to understand his feelings and empathize with him.
Frederick Douglass further uses pathos to express his pains and humanity. In the third paragraph of the passage, he changes his syntax to start with, “I”, causing a more personal and subjective statement. He continues “I” with a verb such as, “can,” “will,” and “am,” to portray his identity, abilities, and intentions. He gives specific details and ideas, saying, “ I will try to bear up slavery in the hold,” clearly starting with “I will.” By using “I will” he is revealing his thoughts and ideas for the reader to understand his perspective. It creates a sense of pathos as the reader can connect to Douglass and understand his journey and purpose. Repeating, “i” reminds the reader that this is his story, and that everything he says is personal to his life. His syntax involves him repeating his intentions and ideas of how he would endure slavery and oppression. Frederick conveys the complete though that he will overcome the suffering and influence the reader to take action with him.
Furthermore, Douglass uses repetitive diction and phrases to emphasize certain parts of his journey and thoughts. For instance, he wrote, “work, work, work,” to express how much he spent his life working as a slave instead of actually living it freely. By repeating the diction the reader can understand how Douglass’ life evolved around being forced to work and suffer unlike any other free human should. It creates a sense of sympathy towards the audience as it appeals to a sense of humanity to anyone who would dread working their whole life without any control instead of enjoying it. He also uses the phrase, “and behold a man transformed into a brute,” with “Why was I born a man, of whom to make a brute,” As you can see, Douglass repeats his journey of being forced into becoming a brute. Initially he explains how a man is put through the pit of suffering, eventually becoming a brute. In the third paragraph he further explains how he endured the crushing journey of slavery causing him to become a brute. By repeating this phrase he emphasizes how his humanity was stripped away. It creates a sense of pathos and causes the reader to walk through his journey of pain and comprehend the lives of other slaves. By using repetition throughout his narrative, Douglass is able to stress the tortures of the slave trade