Fredrick Douglass 'Rhetorical Question'

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A decade prior to the Emancipation Proclamation, newly freed slave Fredrick Douglass was attempting to save a dying abolitionist movement. A gifted orator, Douglass used these 3 literary techniques to convey his point: A series of rhetorical questions designed to highlight the irony of slavery in a country of liberty, anaphora skillfully used to nail the slaves’ misfortune onto the country’s ideals of democracy and allusions in order to connect both slaves and slavers to their shared Christian values. In the first paragraph, Douglass invokes the rhetorical question, “Are the great principles…... embodied by that Declaration of Independence, extended to us [blacks]?” This actively paints America as a paradox, a country built upon enlightenment values of equality yet supported by the scarred backs of millions of black slaves. Later, in the ninth paragraph, he again demands a rhetorical question, “Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man?” While this obviously serves to cement the irony he discusses, it also shows Douglass’ efforts to denounce the Abolitionists’ cause in order to revitalize the weakening movement. …show more content…

In paragraph two, Douglass states “for who is there so cold……? Who so obdurate……? Who so stolid……?” This passage serves to personify the slave’s eternal struggle for survival and creates the impression that the enslaved are humans too. In the fourteenth paragraph, Douglass describes, “to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs…” This vivid imagery serves to contextualize slavery with humanity. America is thus both the best and worst representations of humankind. Douglass therefore creates a self portrait of slavery as America’s evil shadow, sketching it as a terrible

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