Letter from Birmingham Jail

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On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested during a peaceful protest against segregation. In his letter to clergymen, King conveys his urgency in changing segregation laws by using a series of rhetorical strategies, such as metaphors, antithesis, parallelism, personal anecdote, antimetabole, and ethos to strengthen his argument.

In paragraph 13 King starts out by using a simple but effective method of using metaphors. “Disease of segregation” is used directly to compare segregation as if it were a disease. The take his side.

Paragraph 14 is the most crucial paragraph containing the most rhetorical devices than any other paragraph in the letter. Paragraph 14 starting in the middle of the fourth line starts a very long periodic sentence which happens to be a personal anecdote. King is telling a story of what the everyday black man given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” The tone of urgency is instilled even more to the people by saying “justice denied” to those who patiently wait as told. His use of the pronoun “you” singles out the reader to imagine what oppression fells like and to try and put them in a situation where you “find it difficult to wait” for change.

In the Letter from Birmingham Jail, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. appeals mostly to the heart of the reader with his intense use of ethos. Ethos is important for changing the mind of the reader to hit them from the inside. Though all the devices used help to add to his letter, it encourages the reader to not only think about the vivid picture painted for them by King’s words, but to know something much be done and fast.

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