Douglass characterizes Colonel Lloyd and his plantation through the use of many literary devices. Douglass primarily uses antithetical structures, such as antithesis, juxtaposition, and chiasmus, in addition to using sarcasm to emphasize the irony of the slaves’ situations, and the poor treatment of the slaves by their masters. He uses climactic order, on the other hand, to build suspense and create a more profound impact on his audience, and to greater emphasize the tragedies the slaves so often faced. Douglass uses antithetical structures, climactic order, sarcasm, and contradictions in order to highlight the irony and corruption of the institution of slavery and its dehumanizing effects on both the slaves and the slaveholders.
Douglass uses juxtaposition and contradiction in lines 22-37 (“The Colonel also kept… Barney a very trying one”) in order to emphasize the irony in the fact that Colonel Lloyd treats his horses better than he treats his slaves. Douglass juxtaposes the second paragraph, one which boasts of Colonel Lloyd’s excellent treatment of his horses, in between the first and third paragraphs, both which describe the poor treatment of Lloyd’s own slaves. This placement suggests that Douglass treats even his animals better than his slaves as “in nothing was Colonel Lloyd more particular than in the management of his horses”. In addition he
Douglass uses antithesis, chiasmus, climactic order, imagery, and sarcasm in lines 37-66 (“They never knew… ridges upon his back”) in order to emphasize the sadistic nature of slave owners, and the corruption and dehumanization of all who take place in the institution. Douglass states that the slaves were “whipped when least deserving, and escaped whipping when most deserving it”, which suggests the sadistic nature of the slave owners, as they whipped the slaves not as a punishment for wrongdoing, but for mere amusement and pleasure. In addition the sadism of slave owners is apparent in Lloyd’s rant (lines 45-51) in which Lloyd uses very petty justifications for his abuse of his slaves. Douglass uses chiasmus and antithesis in this passage as well to stress how menial Lloyd’s complaints truly are, and to further emphasize his cruelty. Douglass describes old Barney as a “man between fifty and sixty years of age”, and later states that Colonel Lloyd made him “kneel down upon the cold, damp ground, and receive upon his naked and toil-worn shoulders more than thirty lashes at the time.” This use of imagery and climactic order again supports Lloyd’s cruelty towards his slaves, and his ruthlessness in his so called punishment. Lloyd’s sarcasm is also apparent in line 61 in which he says that Lloyd’s sons and sons-in-laws all “enjoyed the luxury of whipping servants when they pleased”. This sharp sarcasm again concerns the sadistic nature of the institution of slavery, and the constant abuse of slaveholders’ powers.
America, a land with shimmering soil where golden dust flew and a days rain of money could last you through eternity. Come, You Will make it in America. That was the common theme of those who would remove to America. It is the common hymn, the classic American rags-to-riches myth, and writers such as Benjamin Franklin and Frederick Douglass had successfully embraced it in their works. Franklin and ...