A Rhetorical Analysis Of 'Letter From Birmingham Jail'

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A “letter from Birmingham Jail” is regarded as one of the most notable examples of rhetoric argument in American history, this letter was written by Martin Luther King in April 16 1963 as a response to “A Call for Unity” an open letter written by eight clergymen critiquing King’s peaceful movement calling it “unwise and untimely.” Martin Luther King confutes this eight clergy men by masterfully rebutting his opponents’ claims through a skillful use of different modes of persuasion: ethos, pathos and logos. This rhetorical paper will meticulously review these mentioned rhetorical appeals. An effective attempt of persuasion should begin by the persuader stablishing his authority in order to achieve credibility and empathy. King is a master at persuasion ergo he establish empathy with his audience, the…show more content…
By addressing his opponents in a companionable way as “Fellow Clergymen” King sends the message that he is willing to have a serious civilized discussion. And the audience is persuaded to listen to their colleague. Just as a medical doctor is obligated to discuss the cure to an illness with another doctor. The eight clergymen feel compelled to listen to King because both share the same profession and love for God. Following the establishment of King’s authority, he proceeds to maintain and emphasize the religious references throughout his letter to assure his appeal among the clergymen. One example of an appeal to authority that stands out is when King is accused of being an extremist, he refutes the accusation of being “an extremist” by appealing to the highest Christian authority: Jesus. King tells the clergymen that Jesus was also an extremist (King 33) he continues to clarify that being an extremist does not necessarily make you wrong “was not Jesus an extremist for love.” This is
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