Frederick Douglass: Narrative Of The Life Of Essay

Length: 3 pages Sources: 1 Subject: Sports - Women Type: Essay Paper: #68586451 Related Topics: Frederick Douglass, Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl, Slave Narrative, Narrative
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Frederick Douglass: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave was an autobiography crafted by the famous former slave and abolitionist to illustrate the horror of slavery. Over the course of the narrative, Douglass uses a combination of pathos, logos, and ethos to convince the reader of his or her moral obligation to fight against the enslavement of African-Americans. Douglass gives particular attention to the condition of women in relation to slavery, both how slavery deprives black women of the protections they should have as females and how it corrupts the soul of white women with power.

Douglass was born a slave and he makes clear early on that he was aware of the horrors of slavery from an early age. The first incident he details is the following to illustrate this: "I have often been awakened at the dawn of day by the most heart-rending shrieks of an own aunt of mine, whom he [the master] used to tie up to a joist, and whip upon her naked back till she was literally covered with

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On an emotional level of pathos, this illustrates the cruel and capricious nature of slavery. In terms of ethos, the beating is inflicted upon a defenseless woman, something that would have been horrifying to Douglass' 19th century readers who regarded women as the frailer sex that should be protected. It also underlines the vulnerability of the slave: even if the slave does nothing wrong, she can be beaten simply for the master's pleasure. The beating is said to be like a rape: the aunt was stripped naked and beaten so hard that the fencepost was bloody afterward. The white man also called her terrible names which Douglas insinuates that no woman should know, much less be called. The young Frederick said he cowered and fear and was sure he would be next. Later, he found that the aunt had been sneaking out at night to see someone but he stresses that the actions were not to preserve her virtue, but to teach her a lesson about obedience. On a logical level (logos) Douglass states that his aunt was well-respected and loved in the slave community and this shows how even a virtuous woman was not safe in an enslaved condition. Rather than serving a protective function, as slave-owners sometimes claimed was the case, slavery left women open and vulnerable to being violated.

Frederick Douglass also uses an incident of the murder of a slave to indicate its brutality. Slaves could be murdered with virtual impunity as well, once again defying the contention that slaves were happy in their lot. Douglass details how he learned that "the wife of Mr. Giles Hicks, living but a short distance from where I used to live, murdered my wife's cousin, a young girl between fifteen and sixteen years of age, mangling her person in the most horrible manner, breaking her nose and breastbone with a stick, so that the poor girl expired in a few hours afterward" (Douglass 26). Once again, Douglass notes using logos there was no reason for…

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Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.

14 Dec 2014. Web.


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