Comparing Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and Invisible Man
The Black Revolution has occurred for quite some time and in many different ways, the most prominent being in literature. Two primary examples of the struggle and yearn for change among African Americans include Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, the autobiography of Frederick Douglass and Invisible Man, a novel written by Ralph Ellison. Although both have the same foundation, the difficult task of being black and trying to make something of one's life, many important differences exist between these works. First, the language used by the authors is strikingly dissimilar. Next, the time periods in which these pieces of literature were written have a difference of over one hundred years. Finally, the main characters are faced with different circumstances and injustices.
First, the language and literary devices used by the two authors are very different. In his autobiography, Frederick Douglass uses a very educated language and makes his story able to be understood by the reader quite easily. It is exactly what the title states, a narrative, and tells the story of Douglass' life in a simple, yet touching way. However, in Invisible Man, Ellison transforms the English language into something eloquent and beautiful. "Nor is my invisibility exactly a matter of a bio-chemical accident to my epidermis."(193) This is an example of Ellison's wonderful mastery of language and vocabulary. Ellison also utilizes dialect in his description of his own level of Dante's hell. In this section, he also gives reference to the strong Christian roots of African Americans and their sense of religion and belief in God. He also uses vivid imagery with the use of many adjectives describing people and places. For example, the beginning of his description of hell, "...I saw a beautiful girl the color of ivory pleading in a voice like my mother's...."(197) The use of dialect and imagery gives the novel more depth and intensity and intrigues the reader.