A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Rhetorical Devices

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Ethos Pathos Logos

The Rhetorical Triangle: Ethos, Pathos, Logos

By Katherine Docimo and Kristy Littlehale

A great way to enhance understanding of effective arguments is to through Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Ethos is the credibility of the speaker or writer; pathos draws the audience in through emotional connection, and logos uses logic, reasoning, evidence, and facts to support an argument. A key to strong persuasive writing is the ability to dissect and validate, or debunk, the rhetoric of other arguments.


Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Activities

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

Lesson Plans by Bridget Baudinet

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass was written by Frederick Douglass himself and published in 1845. Over 250 years later, the narrative still remains a powerful work, both for the vivid window it provides on the practice of slavery in the American South and for its eloquent defense of human rights.




Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

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A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Rhetorical Devices

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  • LOGOS
  • Mr. William Freeland, like Mr. Edward Covey, gave us enough to eat; but, unlike Mr. Covey, he also gave us sufficient time to take our meals. He worked us hard, but always between sunrise and sunset. He required a good deal of work to be done, but gave us good tools with which to work. His farm was large, but he employed hands enough to work it, and with ease, compared with many of his neighbors.
  • PATHOS
  • ETHOS
  • I stake my reputation on this man!
  • Douglass's account rings true and fair.
  • Douglass makes a convincing argument due to his well-written, logical account. He uses sophisticated vocabulary along with specific, verifiable names and geographic locations. He writes fairly and gives credit where it is due in order to avoid accusations of unjust bias.
  • Douglass describes the cruel beatings slaves received in vivid detail. His eloquent language inspires pity in the reader. His accounts are most powerful when he describes witnessing the abuse of others as a terrified child. He writes, "No words, no tears, no prayers, from his gory victim, seemed to move his iron heart from its bloody purpose...I was quite a child, but I remember it. I shall never forget it whilst I remember anything."
  • Douglass's narrative begins with a preface by well-known abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and a letter from abolitionist Wendell Phillips. These respected men act as witnesses, testifying to Douglass's good character. Douglass also builds his credibility by refusing to believe in superstitions and depicting himself as a hard-working, intelligent, church-going Christian.
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