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Pathos in What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?

Pathos Examples in What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? :

Text of Douglass's Speech

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"For my part, I would say, welcome infidelity! welcome atheism! welcome anything! in preference to the gospel, as preached by those Divines!..."   (Text of Douglass's Speech)

In an appeal to pathos, Douglass takes up a scandalous perspective on the Christian church and on religion in general. His aim here is not to denounce the Christian faith; his aim is to play devil’s advocate against the supporters of slavery who use Christianity as an argumentative tool. The pathos arises from the extremity of his position, inviting in “infidelity” and “atheism” in the name of abolition. At a time when the American population was overwhelmingly Christian, these words would have evoked a powerful emotional reaction.

"You could instruct me in regard to them...."   (Text of Douglass's Speech)

In this passage Douglass makes an appeal to both ethos and pathos. By displaying his own lack of understanding and deferring to his audience on the topic of the American Revolution, he succeeds in both garnering the trust of his audience and fanning their sense of pride.

"Mark the sad procession..."   (Text of Douglass's Speech)

From this line through the end of the paragraph, Douglass employs a series of imperatives: mark, hear, cast, see, follow, attend, and tell. Imperatives serve as commands, and so Douglass uses them to add power to his observations. This serves as an appeal to pathos, as Douglass’s narrative construction forces the audience to live through the experience he describes.

"The whole scene, as I look back to it, was simple, dignified and sublime...."   (Text of Douglass's Speech)

Douglass makes a calculated pathos appeal to the audience in this passage. The adjectives “simple, dignified, and sublime” all have positive connotations, and by using them, Douglass appeals to the pride and patriotism of his crowd.

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