Rhetorical Analysis Of Martin Luther King

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Inspiring Change
In the midst of the civil rights movement, Doctor Martin Luther King found himself in a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, one of the most segregated cities in the United States at the time. While in that jail cell, King wrote Letter from Birmingham Jail in response to the city’s religious leaders. Through his use of ethos, pathos, and logos, King made a thought-provoking and powerful argument for the civil rights movement which continues to inspire change in the hearts of his audience, both implied and actual.
Dr. Martin Luther King understood perfectly how to construct an argument that would strike the hearts and minds of his audience through the use of emotion. Throughout the letter, a consistent theme is King’s play on pathos which is evident through his description of emotional experiences and use of comparisons to biblical figures. An example of pathos through biblical comparison comes when King responded to being labeled an extremist for his non-violent actions while in Birmingham. He pointed out that Jesus was “an extremist for love” (King 6) and Paul was “an extremist for the Christian gospel” (King 6). If both of these highly regarded religious figures were classified as extremists then being labeled an extremist is an honor, as long as it is for love and acceptance.
While the use of biblical examples certainly aided King in his ability to emotionally appeal to his implied audience, the element of emotional experiences is what to this day has a
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