Emotional Analysis Of Douglas's Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass

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While reading Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass, it immediately becomes clear to the reader that it is much more than an autobiographical account of his experience as a slave; it is also a strong argument against slavery. Frederick Douglass was born in Tuckahoe, Maryland in 1818, an era of strong racial prejudices and widespread acceptance of slavery, especially in the southern United States. Due to this, he was enslaved from the day he was born until he was able to find freedom in the North, 20 years later, in 1838. These 20 years serve as the primary focus for Douglass’ narrative, in which he retells the stories of his most striking experiences during his time as a slave. These accounts build a foundation for …show more content…
Throughout the narrative, Douglass employs many techniques to induce an emotional response from the audience. Since there is a large variety of passages in the narrative, the reader is brought to feel numerous different emotions, the most prominent ones being anger and hopelessness. One of the most powerful ways in which Douglass elicits anger in his audience is by showing the reader how cruel and unfair slaveholders could be. This becomes particularly clear in chapter 10, where Douglass recounts his experiences during the year he spent on the plantation of a “slave-breaker” named Mr. Covey. Douglass was on this farm “but one week before Mr. Covey gave [him] a very severe whipping […] he (Mr. Covey) rushed at [him] with the fierceness of a tiger, tore off [his] clothes, and lashed [him] till he had worn out the switches, cutting [him] so savagely as to leave the marks visible for a long time” (71). This ruthless punishment of Frederick Douglass is not only horrifying, but it also infuriates the reader because of how unjust it is. Douglass was whipped for losing control of a team of unbroken oxen that he had never even learned how to drive. In other words, he was punished for something that was entirely out of …show more content…
The narrative provides the reader with vivid images of the cruelty endured by slaves and compelling passages that detail the futility of yearning for freedom as a slave. These evoke strong feelings of anger and hopelessness in the reader, and show the audience truly how impossible it was to maintain sanity as a slave. Since a large percentage of American society was living under these conditions, the reader is brought to reflect on the emotional sustainability of slavery. Additionally, Douglass uses logical rhetoric throughout his narrative to not only show how unjust and unnecessary slavery was, but also to prove it. He compares the North to the South various times in his narrative, and through his observations demonstrates that without slavery the North prospered socially and economically. This combination of emotional appeal and logic strengthens Douglass’ argument, and makes it tremendously

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