Civil Disobedience

Page 1 of 2

Civil Disobedience

By | Feb. 2013
Page 1 of 2
While comparing two pieces of writing with such rich literary content, one must first examine their subject, occasion, audience, purpose, speaker and their tone. "Civil Disobedience", by Henry David Thoreau and "Letter from Birmingham Jail" by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., both illustrate transcendental ideas and views. Both display how the act of civil disobedience is sometimes necessary while dealing with types of social injustice. King, thought wrote his essay about a hundred years after Thoreau, connects in many literary techniques and in some instances, in context as well to Thoreau's work. By using Ethos, Logos, and Pathos King and Thoreau write their essays to persuade their audience with their common idea of the necessity of civil disobedience when the government and the society present unjust actions. In "Civil Disobedience", Thoreau relies more on Ethos and Logos with combination with his rhetoric strategy to sway his audience into agreeing with his point of view. That could be shown when Thoreau says, "He who gives himself entirely to his fellow men appears to them useless and selfish; but he who gives himself partially to them is pronounced a benefactor and philanthropist." Likewise, Dr. King also uses rhetoric techniques to convince his audience with his outlook, but he relies more on Pathos to capture the sentimental aspect of his audience. King's use of Pathos is clear when he says, "…when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity…" By mastering diction, he is able to make one cry just by choosing the right words to make the reader/audience feel involved in the subject discussed. Now, one would ask, why did these two skillful writers put so much emphasis on their persuading techniques? Well, after annotation and thorough analysis of such magnificent pieces of writing, one can clearly illustrate the pure transcendentalist ideas in both texts. When "Civil...