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Rhetorical analysis of Martin Luther King's letter from Birmingham Jail - Essay Example

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Also known as The Negro is Your Brother and Letter from Birmingham City Jail, The Letter from Birmingham Jail is an open letter that Martin Luther King Jr. wrote on April 16, 1963. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929- April 4, 1968) was a civil rights activist, American…
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Rhetorical analysis of Martin Luther Kings letter from Birmingham Jail
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Download file to see previous pages The success of The Letter from Birmingham Jail is underscored by it becoming a key text for the United States civil rights movement of the 1960s. A study conducted in 1999 found that the letter was highly anthologized, since it had been printed 50 times in 325 editions intended for college-level analyses, for the period between 1964 and 1996.
That King thoroughly used Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle is a matter that is underscored by the whole speech being fashioned in a manner that enables one to see a triad comprising logos, ethos and pathos.
As for logos, one can see that King organized his letter well, so as to give it a logical appeal. From the outset, King makes it clear that the purpose of the letter is to make the clergymen that he and his group of civil rights agitators demonstrated because it was absolutely inevitable and expedient at the time. To this end, King uses persuasive and condemnatory tones, as a way of convincing readers to agree with him.
King also shows thorough use of logos in order to sustain his argument against the clergymen, in order to establish and support the fact King and civil rights agitators had no recourse to prepare for direct action. There are logical examples that King adduces to this end.
Another way by which King uses logos is by appealing to authority. In this case, King quotes Thomas Jefferson. According to Bostdorff, The authority of Thomas Jefferson would compel King’s addressees to listen to him since Jefferson was one of the founding fathers of the United States, the author of the US Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States. It is for this reason that King quotes Jefferson statement that, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, having been endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, [and] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This is an appeal to authority by ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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