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Rhetorical Analysis Of What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July

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Independence Day: A Celebration of Freedom or A Hypocritical Fraud? Throughout “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?,” Douglass passionately argues his position that the Fourth of July, a holiday supposedly celebrating freedom and liberty, is nothing but a hypocritical sham in the eyes of slaves and freed African Americans. In this fiery speech, Douglass calls upon his audience to fight against the oppression of slaves by properly recognizing their manhood. Douglass employs imagery to better illustrate the anger and despair felt by 19th century slaves. He uses diction, specifically rhetorical questions, to draw attention to the hypocrisy of owning slaves in a nation that celebrates the freedom of “all men”. He uses syntax to better help convey the cruelty of slavery and the terror that free and escaped slaves face knowing that they are constantly being hunted as though they are animals. Douglass’ implementation of these rhetorical devices and his appeal to pathos help him address his main message: a nation can never truly be free so long as the freedom of some is built off of the backs of the enslaved. In order to demonstrate the dread felt by African Americans in the 19th century, Douglass evinces imagery to illustrate the fear that enslaved and free Blacks struggle with on a daily basis. In the first sentence of paragraph one, Douglass states, “Fellow-citizens; above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! Whose chains, heavy and grievous
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