Analysis Of Letter From Birmingham Jail

Decent Essays
Martin Luther King Jr.’s essay “Letter From Birmingham Jail” is a response and explanation to clergymen who challenged King’s methods of protest. The letter is laid out in a criticism-counter structure and was written while King was imprisoned for protesting without a permit. By appealing to the audience’s emotions, showing his credibility and persuading through reason, King successfully clarifies his stance on civil disobedience and the necessity of nonviolent campaigns. Throughout the text King both clearly and subtly justifies the reliability of his explanation through the positions he has held in society, his knowledge of both current and past events, and his control over his writing. At the beginning of the letter, King informs the audience of his standing as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). This not only connects him with the audience, who are also Christians, but also places King in a position of authority with whom society generally views as trustworthy and honest. However, to keep the audience open-minded, King addresses his readers as “My Dear Fellow Clergymen”, which places King at the same status and shows that King sees the clergymen as equals to himself.
The control King has over the flow of the passage only further proves King’s credibility as a skillful writer and speaker. This is seen in the first paragraph of the letter, where the juxtaposition of overly polite diction and backhanded compliments creates doubt in the
Get Access