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 City Jail, Ethos, Pathos, And Logos Used In King's Letter. Use Of Ethics, Emotions, And Logic
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King wrote the "Letter from Birmingham Jail" in an exceedingly effective way. King used his intelligence, virtue, and honesty to write an appropriate reply to the criticism he received. He also used logic and emotional appeal.
In the first paragraph King says, "... Since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and your criticisms are sincerely set forth..." He gives the ministers importance. He recognizes that these men are of "genuine food" and accepts their sincere criticism with humbleness. Dr. Martin Luther King says, "I am sure that each of you would want to go beyond the superficial social analyst who looks merely at effects and does not grapple with underlying causes." He demonstrated that he knows and respects that the ministers are intelligent and that they are in agreeance in some aspects. He later says, "But I have tried to say that this is normal and healthy discontent can be channelized through the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. Now this approach is being dismissed as extremist. I must admit that I was initially disappointed in being categorized." King expresses his beliefs as to be called an extremist. He does not believe his nonviolent actions should be labeled "extremist." Dr. King says, "If I have said anything in this letter that is an overstatement of the truth and is indictive of an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me." In this statement, he not only apologizes for any exaggerations, he also shows a great deal of respect to them.
King says," Anyone who lives in the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere in this country." King gives the ministers a feel of belonging. As long as they live in the Unites States they will be accepted. King later says, "Like so many experiences of the past, we were confronted with blasted hopes and the dark shadow of a deep disappointment settled upon us." King describes his disappointments as dark shadows creating an image for his audience to relate to. He says, "For years now, I have heard the word" Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This "wait" has almost always meant "never" even though this may have been written in a placid manner,...
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