The article “Learning How to Read and Write” is written by Fredrick Douglass. Douglass was born a slave in 1818 in Maryland. He learned to read and write, escaped to New York, and became a leader in the abolitionist movement. In the article, against all odds, Douglass overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to read and write. In the expert, Douglass appeals to pathos to describe the difficulty of reading and write and how hard is to be a slave. He also appeals to ethos when he starts really an interest in reading and writing.
In the article Douglass depicts his life as a young slave trying to learn how to read and write without a proper teacher. he is not only speaking of his unconventional ways of learning but also what he learned about the world he was living in and the difference between the feelings and thoughts of literate slaves and illiterate slaves. He speaks of the pros and cons of having the power of knowledge and how it forever changed the man became.
Frederick Douglass appeals to Pathos in this excerpt. Because this is a true story, all the hardships his mistress put him through and all the trouble he had to go through and endure just to learn to read and write, give off real emotions. The fact that this really happened to him has more of an effect on his audience than if this was fiction. In the article, Douglass said that he regrets his own existence and he wished himself dead.
This makes the audience feel extremely sad and sorry for him. One way that Frederick Douglass uses pathos to persuade his audience is by him stating how bad he felt once he did learn how to read and write and how he envied the people who couldn’t. One would think that by him saying that would push someone to not want to learn to read, but it is the reason he feels this way that would persuade them. He used pathos again when he talks with his white friends about slavery. For example: “You will be free as soon as you are twenty-one, but I am a slave for life! Have not I as good a right to be free as you have? (Douglass, 58).”
Douglass establishes to ethos when he started to think logically while learning to read. The more he learned, the more he built his character to get what he wanted. He also builds character by choosing not to flee when white men also tell him. He knew they could invite him to flee to catch him and get a reward. He decided to take the opportunity to learn to write before fleeing. His character can also be determined by the title and even by the first sentence of the story. “I lived in Mr. Hugh’s family for about seven years (57).” This shows that he looks like any other slave, even though he has found a way to educate himself. This attracts the attention of his audience and makes him credible and trustworthy as an author.
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