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Rhetorical Analysis of Letter from Birmingham Jail - Essay Example

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The article was written while Dr. King was in Birmingham jail and was initially rejected by the New York Times magazine. However, excerpts were later published in May 1963 sans consent from Dr. King in the New York Post magazine…
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Rhetorical Analysis of Letter from Birmingham Jail
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Download file to see previous pages King, these actions by the African Americans were long overdue, and it was the best time for them to negotiate with white politicians (King 5). This article is titled Letter from Birmingham Jail; while its thesis statement is that, the black people must be allowed to demonstrate at that time because it was necessary to do so. While this thesis statement is not clearly stated, the letter addresses this issue throughout, which means that it is the main reason for writing the letter. Therefore, one has to read the entire letter in order to infer the statement. This ensures that the audience reads the entire letter with an open mind. The structure of the letter aids Dr. King in projecting his message. Paragraphs 2 to 5 are the most fundamental with regards to structure. The four paragraphs then transition to the remaining part of the letter. Paragraph 2 introduces the reader to the reasons for his imprisonment, which makes the letter broader. The letter’s purpose becomes clearer as one reads through it, and the most important paragraph is the fifth one, where he defends the protests in Birmingham and tells off the clergymen, “But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations” (King 4). The rest of the letter addresses the ideas brought up in the fifth paragraph. The structure affects the reader because it builds up momentum for what Dr. King wants to say and makes it more powerful. In the letter, Dr. King has a persuasive tone as he attempts to get the reader to agree with his viewpoint. He is understanding and patient with the eight clergymen and seeks to find a common ground by bringing up points, which were raised in their opinion and arguing them out politely. The...
In the letter, Dr. King uses logos as a way to back his counterargument against the clergymen up. He claims, “[they] had no alternative except to prepare for direct action”. He also seeks to prove his point through logical fallacies with appeals to authority; for instance, when he writes “Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal”. The audience will respect a famous person being quoted, and thus, makes what he is saying sound true. Dr. King also uses ethos to show that he is moral, knowledgeable, and reasonable. The above example is when he says, “We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional God-given rights”. This is reasonable since he is being asked to wait, but he and other black people have already done so for 340 years. Dr. King also shows that he is moral by saying “...so we must see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in a society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood”. This shows his morality since he aims for all people to live together in peace.
Finally, he also uses pathos in the letter. For example, where he states, “when you suddenly find your tongue-twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children”. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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