Throughout this passage coming from the Narrative of Douglas, Douglass is referring to the women at his new plantation, or his new “home”. He portrays the idea that slavery truly does have a very impactful and large effect on everyone who witnesses it or is involved with it, rather than just the slaves themselves, specifically through the words, “soon commenced its infernal work” (Douglass 77-78). Essentially, one could say that slavery changes who a person is entirely, and this is demonstrated perfectly through Douglass’ words throughout this passage.
Douglass shows the true impact slavery leaves on everyone through the picture he paints into your head, which stems from his use of imagery when he states, “cheerful eye” and “red with rage” (Douglass 77-78). The use of the imagery impacts readers, and brings to life the idea that slavery was life changing as it shows that her once happy self was changed the minute her life was introduced to slavery through her new marriage, as prior to this she had never experienced the horror of slavery. She was once pure and innocent, yet that was all taken away from her when she entered the world of slavery. The torture her and her husband were inflicting on others took a toll on her personality as a whole, and eventually sucked all of the life out of her.
Following this, Douglass’ use of a metaphor through the words, “angelic face gave place to that of a demon” (Douglass 77-78) shows yet again the idea that people change entirely through the terrifying, and horrific process that slavery was, and all of the treatment that it entailed. This metaphor compares not only the women to an angel in the past, but now a demon as well, which are two very opposite, and rather heavy things to be compared to mentally. Yet again, the idea that slavery can make someone who was once so pure, or someone who obtained an “angelic face” into the worst thing possible, “a demon” is brought to life through this extremely impactful metaphor, as the terms used are on a very deep scale for many. Finally, Douglass brings up once again how amazing and wonderful this woman was prior to this horrid experience and conditions she had to witness others go through. Through the words, “a woman of the kindest heart and finest feelings” (Douglass 77-78), the theme above occurs once again, yet this time, with diction. This woman truly was one of the best people that others had known, up until her breaking point throughout her experience.
Through these words however, it shows the purity, innocence, and true kindness that she had in her heart and in her soul, as Douglass could have simply stated that “she was kind”, yet he took it to a much greater extent to show the true meaning behind her as a person. By using rhetorical strategies which form such a impactful, influential, and real effect on the readers, Douglass continuously shows the life lasting, and changing effects slavery had on everyone involved in the process, rather than just the slaves.
Also, it shows that it doesn’t just change someone’s life and their views, yet it changes who they are as a person overall. Thus, making it extremely hard for readers to imagine how cruel times were in the past, which pulls on their heart and makes them much more grateful for the life they are given now. It can evoke an emotional response, as many don’t truly understand just how impactful and horrific this time was, yet due to the aid from rhetorical strategies, Douglass helps readers better understand this.
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