Using the Rhetorical Triangle
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., uses the various forms of the rhetorical triangle logos, ethos, and pathos, in “Letter From Birmingham Jail”. “ In considering the role that ethos plays in the rhetorical analyses, you need to pay attention to the details, right down to the choice of words or, in a visual argument, the shapes and colors” (Lunsford & Ruszkiewicz 106). Logos is explained, “ In analyzing most arguments, you’ll have to decide whether an argument makes a plausible claim and offers good reasons for you to believe it” (Lunsford & Ruszkiewicz 107). Finally, there is Pathos, “ Emotional appeals (sometimes called appeals to pathos) are powerful tools for influencing what people think and believe. We all make decisions-even important ones-based on our feelings” (Lunsford & Ruszkiewicz 38). In examining King’s letter, the area where he uses pathos, logos, and ethos, will become evident along with his point of view of the unjust treatment in Birmingham.
In “Letter from Birmingham Jail” King is addressing his fellow clergymen and the “white moderate”. There was a misunderstanding of what his reasoning behind his involvement in the demonstrations were. “King was asked by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to assist in the fight for civil rights in Birmingham, Alabama, where an SCLC meeting was to be held” (King 151). King was placed in jail after participating in nonviolent protest, along with other protesters.
“While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities ‘unwise and untimely’. Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are...
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