Frederick Douglass Figurative Language Analysis

Superior Essays
In this selection from Frederick Douglass' 1845 autobiography, the third paragraph stands out from the rest of the passage due to differences in its construction. Douglass' use of syntax and figurative language set this paragraph apart and reinforce Douglass' demonstration that although slavery would leave the reader to "behold a man transformed into a brute" (16-17), slaves were not animals but men, with thoughts and desires of their own. The third paragraph is distinguished from the rest of the essay in its poetic style, metaphors, and its hopeful candor to fulfill Douglass' purpose of presenting to the reader the life of a slave through his thoughts.
Douglass' syntax shifts between the second and third paragraphs. While the first part of
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His language grows flowerier in the third paragraph, setting it off from the lyric but understated opening passages. The contrast between words as "betwixt" (39) and "gallant" (38) and the more quotidian language of the first two paragraphs serves two purposes. It steps off the intensity of Douglass' statements, and it gives to them nobility that well serves the author's rhetorical purpose. In seeing that a slave could not only think but could think in such eloquent terms reinforce Douglass' theme that a slave is a man. This noble language contrasts with Covey's ignoble treatment of Douglass in the first paragraph, undermining slaveholders' beliefs in their innate superiority over blacks and the greater nobility of their souls. Also, Douglass' use of the angel metaphor (36), his reference to hell (44) in a later metaphor, and the recurrence of the word "God" emphasize Douglass' spiritual connection with Christianity. Again, this is juxtaposed against Covey's unchristian treatment of Douglass in the first paragraph; showing that slaveholders' insistence that they were bringing religion to the "heathen" slaves and were teaching them by example is false. The metaphors of the third paragraph, much like its poetic style, achieve the author’s rhetorical purpose. Douglass calls the ships "freedom's …show more content…
In the first and second and last paragraphs, the language is factual, harsh, hopeless, and melancholic. There appears to be a different person speaking in the apostrophic third paragraph. In this hopeful dialogue, it is shown that the innermost hopes of freedom remain unslain. Despite the horrible situation presented in the first two paragraphs, Douglass believes he has an escape to freedom. It is Douglass's purpose in this paragraph to show the reader that however much the slave owners may have tried and hurt the black man, their success, at least in Douglass' case, was only on the outer and not the inner man. Douglass's hope remains unbruised even as on the outside he gets whipped into shape. Paragraph two continues on the sympathy trail, giving vivid descriptions of Chesapeake Bay and the ships within it. These descriptions allow the reader to see the isolation and despair the Douglass felt and draw our emotions even closer to him. The difference of the third paragraph as compared to the rest of Douglass's passage is evident. In the first paragraph, in which Douglass's life as Mr. Covey's slave is described, Douglass uses parallel syntax and figurative language to play on the reader's emotions. Phrases like "It was never too hot or too cold" (line 5) and "The longest days were too short...the shortest nights too long" (lines 8-9) show the cruelty of Mr.

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