Letter from Birmingham Jail

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In Letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr. writes to his fellow clergymen about the turpitudes he feels are taking place in Birmingham. He aims to make his audience aware of things he feels are being swept under the carpet. King uses a variety of religious references to get through to his readers. Since religion is sacred to so many, it is a powerful piece filled with emotion and logic. King's expert use of pathos invokes the emotions of his readers. Since the topic he is writing about is so serious, King sets a serious tone in this piece. By playing on the emotions of his audience, using a variety of religious references, and using a serious tone that mirrors into the mood of the piece; Martin Luther King Jr. presents a fulfilling argument on the injustices taking place in Birmingham at the time.

Emotions are a key part of human beings. Without different emotions, the human species could not function. By playing on the emotions of his readers, King automatically draws in their attention. The emotion hope is played upon throughout the piece: "As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us" (425). To portray the negativity of racism King uses these negatively associated words such as "blasted" and "disappointment". By putting these words with positive words such as "hope", it has sort of a reversed effect. The reader can relate to hopes being crushed and disappointment in their lives. By using relatable ideas and emotions, King's message becomes effective.

King's piece is rife with relgious references. He uses a profusion of religious jargon and often compares himself to biblical characters:
"Just as the eighth century prophets left their little villages and carried their 'Thus saith the Lord' far beyond the boundaries of their hometowns; and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every...
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