“Letters from a Birmingham Jail” Analysis of the Rhetorical Appeals

1195 words 5 pages
In order to successfully write rhetorically, an author must persuade an audience as if to win a debate. To do this, the author must create a trustworthy bond with the audience, support his claim through reason, and create emotion in the audience that compels them to leap out of their seats and take action. Martin Luther King Jr. attempted to do this when he wrote an open letter while in his jail cell after a peaceful debate against segregation. His lettered response was guided at a statement by eight white Alabama clergymen saying that segregation should be fought in court and not on the streets. King uses a combination of three rhetorical appeals to accomplish his rhetor; ethical, logical and emotional. The three appeals used together …show more content…
To convince the clergyman for his arrival he says “Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program…We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived us to our promise…I am here because I have organizational ties here. He then tells the clergyman that he is here because he can’t ignore his promises within the organization; it would be against God to do such a thing. He also states “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere…whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. This statement is the strongest in Kings Letter. He is saying we respond to injustice with direct action not because direct action is more efficient, but because there is no way to negotiate with the white leaders of Birmingham. The last of the three appeals is pathos or emotional appeal. Emotion in rhetoric is important; it is what drives the audience to act. To arouse emotion, King discusses how oppressors do not understand the views of the oppressed; “I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race”. He also uses religion to evoke emotion. The church was sensitive to the clergymen so comparing religion to the situation at hand helped King evoke guilt from the clergymen. “If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly

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