Martin Luther King Jr: An Analysis of the Letter from Birmingham Jail

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Analysis of the Letter from Birmingham Jail Written by Martin Luther King Jr., the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is a paragon of persuasive writing that takes advantage of ethos, pathos, and logos in order to convince its readers to take MLK’s side during the American civil rights movement. The use of ethos defines MLK as a credible writer; the use of pathos appeals to his audience on a personal level; and the use of logos layers his arguments and claims with irrefutable reasoning and logic. By using all three techniques, MLK is able to hold the attention of his readers and persuade them to take his side in the battle against segregation. The speaker of this letter is MLK, who was “confined” physically, but not mentally, in a jail…show more content…
As most of us know, the typical white household consists of a husband and wife, a son and daughter. By using the two examples that involve a heartbroken son and daughter, MLK is able to get his white audience to perceive the text on their own personal levels. How many times has a parent stumbled over what to tell his children when something depressing happens? For example, what might a father say to his son and daughter when their dog dies? This is a predicament that most of MLK’s audience can relate to. Now that the white audience knows how segregation is affecting the blacks, they might have a change of heart and start supporting MLK’s cause. This shows that whenever an argument or situation is presented in a more personal way, mainly through to use of pathos, it becomes more powerful and controlling. Throughout the whole letter, MLK uses logic and reasoning to support his many points. In one example, MLK uses a critical tone to state how “shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will” (210). He attacks the white moderates with this statement, saying that even though the mindsets of the white moderates may not be malevolent, the moderates are actually hindering the
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