The Heroic Slave Rhetorical Analysis

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During the nineteenth century, many novelists and poets published literary pieces that disparaged Southern chattel slavery. Artists and intellectuals from disparate economic, societal, and educational backgrounds wrote of the destructive, dehumanizing, and unethical nature of slavery in the southern states. Frederick Douglass and Lydia Sigourney were advocates for the abolition of slavery, but had different views about how the country should go about dismantling the oppressive system. The social backgrounds and religious views of the two writers seemed to inform their artistic efforts as well as their perspectives on how they thought the country should end slavery in the southern states. Using the poems written by Sigourney well as excerpts from Douglass’s novella, “The Heroic Slave”, mine how the work of Frederick Douglass and Lydia Sigourney described the evils of slavery, how their religious views affected their perspectives on how slavery, and how their pasts influenced their views on the slavery. Frederick Douglass wrote “The Heroic Slave” in 1853, a fictionalized account of a real-life slave named Madison Washington that commandeered a …show more content…
As the opening paragraph of the story progress, Douglass compares slave revolt leader Madison Washington to more renowned Virginians, such as Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. However, where Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry were revered for their valor and contributions to American culture, Madison Washington lived “in the chattel records of his native State” (1255). Making these comparisons between a former slave and revered American heroes was intentional on the part of the author. By comparing Washington to these particular Virginians, he illustrates to the reader that double standard exists. Washington fought to free himself from the oppressive system of slavery, yet his heroism was not recognized by the Americans of that

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