Letters from Birmingham Jail

Topics: Rhetoric, Letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr. Pages: 2 (828 words) Published: June 9, 2013
Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr. mentions the atrocities of racism and describes his endless battles against it. King does this in an effective and logical way. King establishes his position supported by historical and biblical allusions, counterarguments, and the use of rhetorical devices such as ethos, pathos, and logos. With the use of King's rhetorical devices, he described the ways of the Birmingham community and their beliefs, connected to the reader on an emotional level, and brought to light the overall issues dealing with segregation. Through the use of ethos, King describes the "status quo" of the city of Birmingham, their beliefs, and the characteristic spirit of Birmingham. The ethos encompasses all the little bits and pieces of segregation because the ethos describes the community as a whole. He says, "Since you have been influenced by the view which argues against ‘outsiders coming in.’" and "Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea." This tells how the community thought of black people as "outsiders." The use of ethos benefits King's stance and position by pointing out the flaws in the "status quo" of Birmingham. In using pathos, King acquired the ability to emotionally connect to the reader and evoke pity. This made for a stronger stance on his part. King even starts his letter with the use of a pathos saying "While confined here in the Birmingham city jail..." This immediately makes the reader think of the reasons King became incarcerated and of how unjust the reasons were, which made the reader upset and feel bad for King. More upsetting pathos is used as well, such as "We realized that we were the victims of a broken promise" and "Our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us." These become very useful because every single person has had that specific feeling of getting your hopes up only to have them shot down plenty of times before. Any...
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