“Letters from a Birmingham Jail” Analysis of the Rhetorical Appeals

1182 Words Oct 11th, 2011 5 Pages
In order to successfully write rhetorically, an author must persuade an audience as if to win a debate. To do this, the author must create a trustworthy bond with the audience, support his claim through reason, and create emotion in the audience that compels them to leap out of their seats and take action. Martin Luther King Jr. attempted to do this when he wrote an open letter while in his jail cell after a peaceful debate against segregation. His lettered response was guided at a statement by eight white Alabama clergymen saying that segregation should be fought in court and not on the streets. King uses a combination of three rhetorical appeals to accomplish his rhetor; ethical, logical and emotional. The three appeals used together …show more content…
King understands where blacks are coming from in wanted equal rights. King sees the injustices of the black communities and is very involved in black movements which what what put him in jail. By being African American as well as witnessing injustices, King has firsthand knowledge which establishes his authority to speak on this issue of racial equality. King shows the audience that he is competent by stating that he is the President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. This helps show his strength of leadership in the religious community. This also again shows his competency to speak on the issue of equal rights. He continues to establish empathy by stating how he normally doesn’t respond to criticism; however he chose to respond this time due to the “genuine good will” of the clergymen. That response in itself tells the clergymen that he and the clergyman are on the same playing field, one pastor to another. King showed the clergymen’s “good will” deserved a response which established trust. Creating an ethical appeal in a rhetorical piece is essential in persuading the audience to believe an authors argument. In order for King to persuade the audience of his purpose, justifying direct action, he must explain logically to the audience his claims about the issue. “Logos” also known as logical appeal is argument based on facts and reason. Once King has the intended respect from the clergyman, he begins to prove to the clergyman about the