Rhetorical Analysis Of Martin Luther King's Letter From A Birmingham Jail

994 Words4 Pages
“I have a dream.” Almost every man, woman, and child knows those iconic four words. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a Dream” speech spoke to millions and is remembered as a pivotal point for African American’s civil rights. Perhaps his second most persuasive work is his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Yet, what makes these works so memorable? Mark Twain, William Shakespeare, Martin Luther King Jr. -- all made their literary works well-known through the use of rhetorical devices and argumentative techniques. In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” King argues for racial equality, not only by explaining the social situations of the time period, but also by imploring his readers to understand the truths concerning the racial tension. Through…show more content…
He implores the audience to see what he and his fellow people experienced by recalling specific events. He remembers, “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 your black brothers and sisters[....] Then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait” (King). King explores many different experiences of himself, his friends, and his family. King expands the basis of his argument not only with real personal experiences, but also through illustrating his personality. Throughout the argument, King displays himself as a righteous, calm, and peaceful man who merely desires racial equality. He demonstrates his obedience when mentioning, “I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws” (King). King’s peaceful personality is exemplified throughout the letter. He expresses his character by noting, “In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationists. That would lead to anarchy” (King). King’s techniques proves useful in persuading the reader because it incites many emotions by painting a horrendous image of a stark reality. Through his use of the personal experiences, King defines his personality, character, and…show more content…
The parallelism emphasizes his argument. King notes, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” This parallelism gives King’s letter a sense of cohesion and the expectation of racial equality. King articulates, “Let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides - and try to understand why he must do so.” The repetition of the words, “let him,” emphasizes King’s argument for racial equality and the injustice of his arrest. The repetitive writing style in King’s letter is full of emotion and functions as a plea for understanding. His parallelism implores the reader to engage in an intellectual discernment of their own personal struggles with equality while verbalizing the continual struggle of right versus wrong, white versus black, and just versus
Open Document