Letter from Birmingham Jail

1872 Words8 Pages
Nick Genaris
Professor Ngoh
Protest Literature
21th October 2015
Letter from Birmingham Jail-Rhetorical Analysis Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in order to address the biggest issue in Birmingham and the United States at the time (racism) and to also address the critics he received from the clergymen. The letter discusses the great injustices happening toward the Black community in Birmingham and although it is primarily aimed at the clergymen King writes the letter for all to read. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. uses logos, alliteration/repetition, and ethos to back up his belief that nonviolent protesting and disobedience is the most effective means to protest
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(King realizes people fear change) Ultimately using examples of people so drastically different from each other but still getting the same message across is an effective way to show the audience that extremism doesn’t have to have the negative connotation that it has been associated with.
Another device he uses in order to guide his audience is alliteration/repetition. King repeats the word "when,” in order to emphasize the problem about discrimination and injustice. This in turn makes it seem like a more current and pressing issue. It also appeals to people's emotions. Every time he repeats the word it makes the audience feel that the problem is always happening which arouses more sympathy.
In paragraph 31, King also repeats the word "extremist." This is in response to being called an extremist and he does an excellent job of turning it around in his favor. By repeating this word, he potentially diminishes the negative connotation associated with being an extremist. He embraces it and is confident in doing so. King also calls biblical figures extremists. For example he calls Jesus an extremist, and by doing, so King makes it seem that everyone goes to extremes to fight for their goal. By doing this he also points out that the highest authority in terms of men was an extremist, giving him a certain amount of respect.
He also uses alliterations very well. For example: “…only to give birth to an ill-formed

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