Rhetoric In Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter From Birmingham Jail

1408 Words6 Pages

In Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, King uses multiple devices of persuasive rhetoric in order to fight injustice. King, a reverend, was a large advocate for civil rights in midst of the great movement calling for equality among all men and women. His letter is widely renowned for King’s proclamation that “in any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of facts to determine whether injustice exists, negotiation, self-purification, and direct action” (par. 6). His usage of tone and carefully placed anaphora aid King in this persuasive essay by further providing insight and evidence that support King’s four points. From Critical Thinking to Argument defines tone as “attitude towards self, topic, and …show more content…

King repeatedly uses the phrase “when you” –eleven times approximately- in order to resonate with his critics the importance of action in bringing segregation to an end and allowing justice for all people of color. Each time he uses the statement “when you”, his argument builds up with greater fervor and passion giving him greater persuasive power over his audience as the repetition of the phrase cause an emotional effect on the readers as they begin to simulate their own experiences with that of what he is citing. Anaphora is also particularly useful in King’s favor as he employs this towards the beginning of the letter, therefore by repeating the phrase “when you” multiple times, it enhances the likelihood that his reader will remember not only what the read but how they felt by the end of the piece. The audience is actively drawn into King’s arguments due to a perception of membership, by being able to anticipate that the next line will repeat what has been said it builds resonance within the audience. King’s usage of anaphora throughout the essay (not just in this one particular quote) serves to effectively strengthen his argument and persuade his readers to abide by the four steps of peaceful protesting for which he is concerned on behalf of the Civil Rights movement. In “Letter from Birmingham Jail” it can easily be argued that King used many rhetorical devices such as anaphora and tone in order to further persuade his audience to take action on behalf of the Civil Rights movement. Through copious examples, the reader is presented with King’s effort to use repetition in order to drive his point as well as being presented with the changing tone of his writing which allows the reader to experience a shift in emotions and urgency throughout the

Open Document