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Letter From Birmingham Jail Analysis Essay

Alex Kim Rhetorical Usage Analysis: Letter From Birmingham Jail In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. would have been found in a stark, cold prison cell, etching words onto a newspaper – a quite deplorable setting for a famous, influential civil rights leader to be placed in. But perhaps, such a setting made his work seem all the more impressive due to the fact that his words was able to reach out and affect so many out there outside the unforgiving bars confining him. One would have never imagined the sheer strength and power of those words that he wrote that very moment – the power to reach out beyond and penetrate the hearts and minds of many. He was writing a letter addressed to the clergymen who had criticized his works and recent protest efforts in Birmingham, Alabama. However, his intent was beyond simply that; he was addressing the entire community to broaden the scope of his message and influence. In this letter, King expresses his purpose with articulation: to persuade the Negro audience to take initiative and rectify the injustices they had suffered from. He successfully asserts his will with conviction by employing the various rhetorical techniques in his arsenal to instigate the clergymen and society as a whole into action following his direction through the use of fiery, ardent diction and clear, unequivocal logic. This is found most prominently in paragraphs 13 and 14 of his Letter from a Birmingham Jail , in which he uses pathos – the emotional appeal – as the vanguard of his rhetorical arsenal alongside logos, ethos, and effective writing style and utilizes them as a combined force to influence the community. King employs ethos in his letter, justifying his position and strengthening his credibility. He establishes himself as part of the Negro community in the first sentence of paragraph 13 by using “we” – a powerful method of making his position appropriate to the situation and strengthening his argument against the clergymen by establishing himself as an understanding

Letter from Birmingham Jail Analysis Essay

942 WordsFeb 26th, 20114 Pages

“Letter From Birmingham Jail” Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” after an unjust proposal made by eight white clergymen. Their claims were to be that no Negro “outsider” should be allowed to establish or lead any protest and should leave them to their local neighborhoods. King replied directly to the clergymen, but used religious ties to also have his voice heard in the public. In his counter argument, King strategically used logical evidence, emotional aspects and good motives to present his perspective to the clergymen. In the beginning paragraphs, King states the main goals of his letter. He then goes on to set up the main points of his argument by stating, “You deplore the demonstrations taking…show more content…

Thus, the need for direct action to force the issue upon the community is further exemplified. King combines the use of ethos and pathos as he compares himself and the rights of men to religious backgrounds. His first comparison is with the Apostle Paul, where Paul had “carried the gospel of Jesus Christ,” as to Kings carrying of “the gospel of freedom.” King addresses this similarity to show why he felt committed to go to Birmingham, because like Paul, he needed to respond as an aid to his people. Towards the end of Kings letter; he exemplifies courageousness in the Negro demonstrations by relating them to the actions of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they refused to follow what they believed to be unjust laws. Saying that if they are supposed heroes by going against unjust laws, why shouldn't the people see Negro demonstrators the same way? They are also God's children and by those disobedience’s, they were really showing the grace of God. These connections to religion supports their fighting against unjust laws as a divine cause. While the comparisons to Christian backgrounds may better help a religious reader better connect to Kings message, emotional suffering helps all whites sympathize to the blacks hardships. Starting out with mentioning how long the blacks have had to “wait” for desegregation when their Godgiven rights already

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