May 18 2012
Analyzing The Letter from Birmingham Jail
The Letter from Birmingham Jail by MLKJ is a fact filled document that is very well written. The body of the letter consists of several easily identified examples of ethos. logos, and pathos. It appeals to all people weather they are logical thinkers as well as those who are emotionally driven. The letter is written in response to questions that were raised by other clergymen of the day. MLKJ does a great job of utilizing the art of good writing to change the ideals of the people opposing his general goals. The ethos in this document first becomes apparent in the letter when he makes the statement “I have the honor of serving as the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state…..”(King 212) There are several more comments that fall into the category of ethos, but this one is in my opinion where in the letter it starts. I find it very fascinating that MLLJ uses ethos, logos and, pathos in that order. It reminders me a lot of how we as young men were broken down and rebuilt to become the soldiers we are today in basic training. Utilizing this method I can see how it would be hard for the original recipients to feel at ease and become more open to the issues addressed in the letter. The logos in the letter becomes apparent when the statement “In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps :…”( King 213). This is logos because it creates the ground work for MLKJ’s reasoning. Because he can’t just speak his mind and have the general public agree with him he must put it in a manner that the general public will be able to relate to. The paragraphs that the example statement came from, as well as the next four paragraphs have several more examples of logos. This to me is the meat and potatoes of the letter because I am a logical thinker. To put it in terms that align with Mr. Kings thought...
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Eds. Missy James, and Alan P. Merickel
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