Pathos In Letter From Birmingham Jail

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Aristotle, a well-known Greek philosopher once stated, “It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.” (Goodreads.com) This quote resonates with the ideals of Martin Luther King Jr. and his response to a letter written by eight white clergymen criticizing him. He responds to this criticism that he receives, which he usually never does, with a letter of his own. The letter that King then writes is A Letter From a Birmingham Jail and in this he responds in great detail to each statement made in the letter from the clergymen. Throughout the letter to the eight white clergymen he is able to present his exemplar techniques when it comes to persuasion with his use of pathos showcasing descriptive abuse from those who enforce …show more content…

When King describes the acts of violence against his “black brothers and sisters” from law enforcement he is able to appeal to the emotions of many by making people try to sympathize with him and his cause. As King states, “but when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill,” (King 2) he shows how misguided the statement of the clergymen was. He does this by exhibiting real life examples of what he himself has seen occuring as a result of peaceful demonstrations furthering his arguments validity. Not only physical harm from law enforcement is affecting African Americans, but the way the law works is too. With Kings example of the segregation that the law causes he uses the scenario, “as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park… and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children,” (King 2) to show how an innocent child understands the issue of racism. This helps make parents sympathize by possibly seeing their own child in a emotional scenario such as this. With these uses of embedding a story into his …show more content…

The main words King consistently brings up and definines have to do with the law, if something is a just or unjust law, or if what is legal or illegal are not the true definition of what people usually think they are. King tries to show that the original usage of a word does not always line up with it being morally right or wrong. To prove this he states, “we can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal,’” (King 3) which shows that in the past the government or leaders may have said something is legal, but in actuality it is morally wrong. It is especially seeable in the case of Hitler, which King mentions, where he lead many innocent people to death. When using these examples and comparing it to the usage of the words legal and illegal during the rise of the civil rights movement, he is able to validify and persuade the readers to see the true meaning and usage of these words. As King defines the meaning of an unjust law to be, “any law that degrades human personality… all segregation statutes… because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality,” (King 3) it legitimizes the argument of how the laws that lead to segregation cannot be deemed a law due to the fact that they push

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