Rhetorical Analysis Of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter To Birmingham Jail

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Martin Luther King Jr. was a strong leader in the Civil Rights movement, the son and grandson of a minister, and one heck of a letter writer. As he sits in a cell of Birmingham Jail in 1963, he responds to criticism from eight white clergymen. Though this letter was intended for the judgemental and condescending men of high faith, his response touched the hearts and minds of the entire U.S. population, then, and for years to come. In his tear-jerking, mind-opening letter, King manages to completely discredit every claim made by the clergymen while keeping a polite and formal tone. Metaphors, allusions, and rhetorical questions are used in the most skillful way to support his argument and ultimately convince his audience of the credibility behind his emotional, yet factual, claims. King strategically persuades …show more content…

When responding to the eight white clergymen, he states, “Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas,” giving the reader the notion that a plethora of criticism must come across his desk. But, he has chosen to write a response and explain himself simply because King feels they are “men of genuine good will” and their criticism is “sincerely set forth.” After the introduction of his letter, he feels he must next explain his location at the time: Birmingham Jail. “I am in Birmingham because injustice is here,” says King. This quote lets the reader know there is a reason behind King’s arrest, a very good reason, too. King uses biblical allusions to appeal to the eight white clergymen and their religious affiliation when he states his duty to carry the “gospel of freedom beyond his home town... Like Paul.” His final point of this section is the clergymen’s failure to recognize the underlying causes of the demonstrations they so harshly condemn, a failure causing further ignorance and confusion on racial

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