Explain how Douglass uses literary devices such as imagery, personification, figures of speech, and sounds to make his experiences vivid for his readers.

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jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Like any good author, Frederick Douglass uses a variety of literary devices to make his experiences vivid to his readers.

Here are some examples of Douglass's use of these devices, all from the first two chapters of hisNarrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and American Slave:

*SIMILE (comparison that uses the words "like" or "as":

slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs...

*METAPHOR (comparison without using the words "like" or "as"):

Mr. Plummer was a miserable drunkard, a profane swearer, and a savage monster [He was not literally a monster, but behaved like a monster].

No words, no tears, no prayers, from his gory victim, seemed to move his iron heart from its bloody purpose. [His heart was not actually made of iron; it was unfeeling, just as iron cannot feel emotion.]

*PERSONIFICATION (human characteristics are given to inaminate objects):

soon the warm, red blood (amid heart-rending shrieks from her, and horrid oaths from him) came dripping to the floor. [A shriek is merely a set of sound waves, and thus cannot rend--tear--a heart; the author is describing the shiek as if it were a surgeon with a knife who is cutting open a heart.]

 the jaws of slavery [slavery is compared to the biting jaws of a cruel person or vicious animal]

ALLITERATION (the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginnings of words):

they were tones LOUD, LONG, and deep

they BREATHED prayer and complaint of souls BOILING over with the BITTERIST anguish.