Mlk vs. Thoreau

Topics: Martin Luther King, Jr., United States, Civil disobedience Pages: 5 (1940 words) Published: May 6, 2006
MLK and Thoreau

When encountering injustice and treated less than a human being, it is not difficult for one to speak out against an issue and voice one's mind. Though two different authors writing on different issues both were compelling and perplexing. Dr. King is fed up with not being treated equal, where Thoreau is tired of flaws in American government. Dr. King's letter discusses many tragedies that the black generations have gone through and hopes that things can change. Thoreau's essay exposes flaws in American government and criticizes the American government for its democratic nature, the idea of majority ruling, and its inability to work properly for the people. Both inform the audience of a specific issue but when comparing the two, Dr. Kings letter proved to be more effective. Dr. King uses great parallelism, more potent appeals and uses cause and effect as a tool to clarify his ideas. Though Thoreau had some uses of details and logical appeals; overall King uses more to strengthen his essay. King's essay is also easier to understand. Details that King uses are more universal many people could relate to what he was saying.

Though Dr. King used a variety of logical appeals, parallelism is used continuosly throughout his argument. The parallelism Dr. King uses has various effects on the reader. It makes what he is saying more direct and powerful. In addition it moves the reader along at a more brisk pace, in a more rhythmic way making what he is saying more interesting. By using parallel structure, Dr. King also makes everything that is within the parallelism of equal importance by starting each sentence with the same words or phrases.

In writing his letter Dr. King uses many uses of appeals to argue with the treatment of African Americans. King uses logical appeal to explain the many attempts of resolving the issue at hand. "In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiations; self-purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham," (888) King shows his audience how many times they must try to set things right but never get any results. Additionally King's compelling uses of emotional appeals also contribute greatly to his letter. Dealing with an issue that he and his own people go through while never getting any results, and being trapped in a cell with all the time in the world, it is all the more easier for King to spill emotions into his letter. Never before have I written so long a letter. I'm afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts, and pray long prayers? (900) With nothing better to do it allows King the time to finally get all of his emotions out on paper in an attempt to bring change. When incorporating emotional appeal on what negroes go through he uses parallelism to make it even more powerul. But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick, and even kill your black brothers and sisters...when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park...There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. (891) King writes in such a way that as if everything he mentioned happened to him. A man cannot just make these things up and explain with such emotion if he himself has not gone through them or witnessed them. This makes the audience connect with King more and feel more heartfelt towards him and his argument. King also uses ethical...
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