How Does Dr King Use Figurative Language In Letter From Birmingham Jail

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The civil rights movement was one of great turmoil and uncertainty in American history. A difference in opinion on how citizens should protest for civil rights drew criticism from many. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ,"Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, illustrates the importance of non-violent protests as resistance in the face of inequality. Inequality, according to Dr.King, must not be ignored and in the face of a monumental shift in philosophy where it becomes everyone's civic duty to be an active participant in the fight for equal rights. Dr. King makes an appeal to feelings by employing literary devices of imagery, figurative language and syntax. At the time Dr. King drafted his letter, he was being criticized for his engagement in …show more content…

King was responding to the backlash he received for bringing activists into Birmingham. Dr.King uses strong figurative language to make an appeal to emotion by creating a bridging unity, “... twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society...”(King 12). Dr. King’s use of metaphors elicits sentiment by strongly conveying the preset socioeconomic limit that holds back African Americans from being equal to their peers. The socioeconomic setbacks faced by African Americans at the time the letter was written was yet another divisive line between blacks and whites. The biases and privileges dictated solely by race, specifically one's skin color and characteristics impels individuals to want to bring about change and makes Dr. King’s argument to end inequality remarkably effective because it is convincing. Dr. King also establishes emotional appeal by his use of metaphors, “Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"(King 29). Dr. King’s use of metaphors generate emotion by alluding to the discrimination and struggles of being African American in the United States. Through his skillful use of symbolism, historical references, and calls to action, Dr. King enables the reader to empathize and join the movement toward social equality. Dr. King, in his essay, is advocating against inequality using an appeal to emotion; he does this effectively through his use of metaphors and figurative

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