Frederick Douglass, an honorary abolitionist who attempted to put an end towards slavery and the author of his memoir The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, describes his emotions after escaping slavery and also his arrival in New York. In his written narrative, he not only addresses how slavery was reducing the mentality of slaves within slavery but even after being freed from it. He convinces to explain further on how it continues to affect former slaves’ lives despite being freed from slavery. While doing so, he strives to convey with his audience by applying similes and syntax throughout his writing.
When Frederick Douglass recalls back the time when he escaped slavery and arrived in New York, he began to express within his writing about how he felt after he finally becomes a free man through the use of figurative language specifically, similes. Douglass mentions that when he became free, it was the best highlight of his life that he ever experienced. In Paragraph 2, he describes what it felt to no longer still be a miserable slave when he said, ‘I felt as one may imagine the unarmed mariner to feel when he is rescued by a friendly man-of-war from the pursuit of a pirate.’ (Line 14-16). This following quote applies the usage of similes because Douglass resembles as an unarmed mariner being rescued from the hunt of a pirate. He uses this particular figure of speech because he’s striving to make his descriptions clear and emphatic. After Douglass arrived in New York, he wrote a letter to his friend to describe his inner thoughts and emotions of entering in a free state as a free man. “I said I felt like the one who had escaped a den of hungry lions.” (Line 17-18) In this quote, Douglass uses similes to portray how he felt after escaping. Since similes are known to create some connection with the readers in the writing, he’s attempting to connect with those who specifically used to associate themselves with slavery that felt a similar way when they transitioned into becoming a free man.
However, that previous state of mind was overwhelmed through Douglass’s insecurities and how his isolation affected his experiences in the real world after he arrived in New York, a free state in the U.S. With his past experiences with slavery, it began to haunt him. Therefore, from the perspective of a former slave, Douglass stated, ‘I saw in every white man an enemy, and in almost every colored man cause for distrust.’ (Line 35-36) This quote reveals how Douglass felt around people of a different color, especially toward whites. It presents a similarity between slave owners and white people in general. Since slaves had always feared and despised their slave owners, because they’re of the same color, it clarifies why Frederick Douglass only saw his worst enemies. It was a painful situation for him to share with because, in every white man, he only saw an enemy. In other words, a slave owner. All in all, the following quotes represent similes because not only he’s attempting to connect with his audience about the recounts of his emotions on escaping slavery, but he strives to deliver his descriptions clear and especially emphatic. By doing so, he utilizes the usage of similes throughout his writing to convey his states of mind.
After Frederick Douglass uses a set of similes in his writing, we can also recognize the use of syntax. Since syntax determines how the tone and atmosphere will be displayed to form a sentence, Frederick Douglass uses syntaxes to explain how the effects of slavery dehumanize slaves even after escaping. With Douglass’s past experiences with slavery in the South, it began to disturb and traumatize him after he makes his first arrival in New York. In Paragraph 2, Douglass struggled to trust others and reach out to people about his current situation because he formerly believed that life in New York lives under the same circumstances as the harsh and sad conditions he dealt with in slavery. “The motto which I adopted when I started from slavery was this—‘Trust no man!” (Line 33-35). Given in this quote in Paragraph 2, the following represents syntax because Douglass employs an exclamatory sentence to illustrate strong and intense emotions to justify why he had a tough time to trust his surroundings. He states how he follows and lives by a ‘motto’ during times of slavery because trusting no one, especially slave owners, is a necessity towards survival. Not only slaves were frequently punished by their slave owners, but slaves saw them as a constant threat. Thus, which makes trusting a lot more painful and complicated for the situation of slaves. In the same paragraph, Douglass then tells us how it’s not that easy to fully understand his current position as a former slave. If others want to achieve and gain a sufficient understanding of his situation, one must experience the whole story along with him or imagine to be in his shoes as a wretched slave. “I say, let him be placed in this most trying situation,–the situation in which I was placed,–then and not till then, will he fully appreciate the hardships of, and know how to sympathize with, the toil-worn and whip-scarred fugitive slave.” (Line 58-63). This quote portrays the use of syntax because he adds an imperative sentence to convey command amongst his audience. After recounting his emotions on escaping slavery, Douglass tries to associate with his readers by indirectly telling them to imagine what it’s like to be tortured and a slave. Although he didn’t address the situation too forcefully, he did manage to serve his audience with the intention to get themselves involved and feel for Douglass. In addition, a similar quote with the same served purpose follows with Douglass stating, “Let him be a fugitive slave in a strange land–where he is every moment subjected to the terrible liability of being seized upon by his fellow-men, as the hideous crocodile seizes upon his prey!” (Line 39-44). This quote also represents as syntax because he utilizes imperative sentences to get his message sent throughout his audience. It’s expressed as an imperative sentence because, in a sense, Douglass is leading his audience to get them to relate to his situation. By doing so, he wants them to gain a better understanding of how slavery changed him even after he escaped. In the end, the syntaxes that Douglass utilizes are a set of imperative and exclamatory sentences to not only reveal his inner thoughts but also share out his frustration within the tone of his writing.
To conclude, Frederick Douglass, practices different stylistic components in his narrative to explain how slavery was reducing the mentality of slaves within slavery but even after being freed from it. In such a case, when Frederick Douglass recalls back to his first arrival in New York about how he felt after he finally becomes a free man, he applies the use of similes with the intended purpose to make sure his descriptions were clear and empathic. Douglass also uses syntaxes to explain how the effects of slavery dehumanize slaves even after successfully escaping. By doing so, he reveals his inner frustration and emotions within the tone of a former slave in his writing by applying syntaxes. Not only these rhetorical devices were used with the intention to evoke emotions from the audience, but they were used to explain his struggles, in a sense, that let the audience to feel the injustice of being owned and controlled by another person.
To conclude, Frederick Douglass, practices different stylistic components in his narrative to explain how slavery was reducing the mentality of slaves within slavery but even after being freed from it. In such a case, when Frederick Douglass recalls back to his first arrival in New York about how he felt after he finally becomes a free man, he applies the use of similes with the intended purpose to make sure his descriptions were clear and empathic. Douglass also uses syntaxes to explain how the effects of slavery dehumanize slaves even after successfully escaping. By doing so, he reveals his inner frustration and emotions within the tone of a former slave in his writing by applying syntaxes. Not only these rhetorical devices were used with the intention to evoke emotions from the audience, but they were used to explain his struggles, in a sense, that allows the audience to feel the pain of being owned and controlled by another person. During that time, to live as an African American was a major obstacle for all. Douglass’s success in gaining the education he needs was due to his talent and skills. But, most importantly, he also uses the ability to employ rhetorical devices up to his advantage.