Analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail

962 Words Aug 31st, 2012 4 Pages
Every writer needs an inspiration to craft a brilliant literary piece. Whether this inspiration is tangible or intangible, it is still necessary. Some forms of inspiration come as passionate love while others appeal as injustice. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" was a response to "A Call for Unity" by eight white clergymen. His inspiration for writing the letter was the clergymen's unjust proposals and the letter allowed him to present his rebuttal. Martin Luther King Jr. effectively crafted his counter argument by first directly addressing his audience, the clergymen, and then using logos, pathos, and ethos to refute his opponent's statements and present his own perspective.

After stating the general purpose of
…show more content…
By using logical argument that is structured and sequential, King appeals to an educated person's thoughts and logic.

Another instance when Martin Luther King Jr. utilizes the tactic of directly addressing his audience to present his rebuttal is evident in the part of his letter beginning, "You may well ask: 'Why direct action? ... isn't negotiation a better path?' You are quite right in calling, for negotiation." In this example, he also uses appeal to logic as the main backbone of his argument but occasionally intertwines pathos and clever word choice along with the logos. As with the previous example, Martin Luther King Jr. first identifies a portion of his opponent's argument and slowly picks it apart. He accomplishes this by focusing on the word "tension." Through a comparison of violent tension, which is undesired, and nonviolent tension, which is constructive, he gradually establishes the concept that the "constructive, nonviolent tension" will "help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood." King uses exceptional word choice, such as "dark depths" and "majestic heights," to accurately present his point of view. He then follows it up with "Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue." His statement not only uses logical reasoning to identify the necessity for negotiation, but
Open Document