Rhetorical Analysis Of Dr. Martin Luther King's Letter To Birmingham Jail

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The speeches and writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., are among the most powerful and persuasive work in history. One notable example is the “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” King’s skillful use of appeal to emotion, authority, and logic effectively put forward his ethnics and ideals. By adopting words as his weapons, he proves that language is often more effective than that of violence in bringing about positive change. He brilliantly explains the reasons for his nonviolent protest with restraint and commitment. In essence, Martin Luther King’s creative use of rhetoric effectively portrays the emotional misery of the segregated families in his call for social equality.
Dr. King methodically finds fault with his opponents’ arguments calling for patience and
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He establishes credibility and character in the salutation of the letter, which reads “My Dear Fellow Clergymen.” He reminds the reader about his role as a religious leader, rather than another role that would have been equally valid. By calling them ‘fellow clergymen,’ he makes the connection that they are in fact equals, that they work in the same profession, and that they all share a common ground. At the beginning of the letter, he tells his “fellow clergymen” that he normally does not reply to his critics or even write at such length, but with nothing else to do during the confined period in jail, he would attempt to answer “sincere criticisms” coming from “men of genuine good will.” Even in providing background information, he uses the narration to convince the clergymen to perceive him as a patient and reasonable man. King then quickly turns from a basic recognition of the clergymen’s letter to an ethos appeal. His underlying message in this appeal to flattery is that he wants men who wish to be sincere and good intentioned to further listen to his words. Even though he spends a

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