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Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

Uploaded by waterlilly2842 on Oct 24, 2001

Aristotle conceived of three appeals for existence: ethos, pathos and logos, all of which are prevalent in all forms of writing, entertainment, speech, and generally life itself. Fredrick Douglass used all three appeals in writing his narrative as part of his rhetorical strategy to enlighten the public of both his life and his cause more than one hundred years ago. He specifically uses ethos, or persona, in three ways: to identify himself to the reader, to provide to the credibility of his statement and to evoke a need for change through his writing style.

Fredrick Douglass grows from a slave boy to a freed man throughout Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave and he uses this transition and identity to provide an outlet to which the reader can identify. Douglass first produces this with the absence of dates. Slaves were kept “ignorant” as to the facts of the real world, sometimes not even knowing the year of their birth, preventing the knowledge of a captive’s true age. A birthday is something with which people can identify, as they are a celebrated part of our culture, especially to youth. Douglass here identifies himself as a human being almost lacking what we may consider a normal childhood simply through the use of dates. These are very important to our culture, counting down the days until your birthday, until Christmas. We identify ourselves by the dates which surround the events of our lives. Part of our identity is formed from dates and this was a privilege he was denied. He is, however, eventually provided a window of opportunity in many to not only learn dates, but gain a general feel for knowledge as well. When the open door of learning that his mistress provided was permanently closed, he says, "it was a new and special revelation, explaining dark and mysterious things, with which my youthful understanding had struggled, but struggled in vain. I now understood what had been to me a most perplexing difficulty-to wit, the white man’s power to enslave the black man. It was a grand achievement and I prized it highly. From that moment I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom" (Douglass 78).

Douglass was learning and he didn’t want to give it up. The reader is able to see how much he valued knowledge and his ironclad will to keep that door open. In...

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Uploaded by:   waterlilly2842

Date:   10/24/2001

Category:   Literature

Length:   5 pages (1,225 words)

Views:   2302

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