Critical Analysis: Letter from Birmingham Jail

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Critical Analysis Essay “Letter from Birmingham Jail” In arguing, writers use different techniques to effectively convey their message to their intended audience. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" was a response to "A Call for Unity" by eight white clergymen in which King’s presence in Birmingham and his methods of public demonstration were questioned. King’s letter was not only a response to his presence in Birmingham, but he also used the opportunity to address the unjust proposals by the clergymen that Negroes wait for the legal system to abolish segregation and unjust laws. King uses rhetorical modes of persuasion such as ethos, pathos and logos to meticulously address and discredit the claims made by the…show more content…
King discusses the morals and types of laws, those “just and unjust”. By explaining laws and using reason to portray situations when laws can and should be broken, King guides the clergymen through his rationalization. To strengthen the sympathetic pathos in his letter, King discusses historical people and events and because something is legal, it doesn't make it moral, like segregation. He emphasizes that although everything Hitler did, such as murdering millions of Jews and cruel scientific experiments, was legal, it was not morally right. "It was illegal to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. But I am sure that if I had lived in Germany during that time I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal." King is comparing American segregation to Hitler's anti-Semitic Germany. King quotes St. Augustine, “an unjust law is no law at all.” Because King comes off as being moral and fair, ethos is established. He is seen as an integral leader. Through this, King is able to argue why he links segregation to being an unjust law. Another mode King uses to evoke pathos of disgust, sadness, and sympathy is that of describing numerous horrific events which occurred during non-violent protests. "Like so many experiences of the past we were confronted with blasted hopes, and the dark shadow of a deep disappointment settled upon us." Because of the assumption that the audience has experienced
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