Rhetorical Devices In Letter From Birmingham Jail

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In paragraphs 33 to 44 of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s response to “A Call for Unity,” a declaration by eight clergymen, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (1963), he expresses that despite his love for the church, he is disappointed with its lack of action regarding the Civil Rights Movement. Through powerful, emotionally-loaded diction, syntax, and figurative language, King adopts a disheartened tone later shifts into a determined tone in order to express and reflect on his disappointment with the church’s inaction and his goals for the future. King begins this section by bluntly stating that he is “greatly disappointed” (33) with the church, though he “will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen” (33). By appealing to ethos and informing the audience of his history with the church, he indicates that he is not criticizing the church for his own sake, but for the good of the church. He reveals his hope that the church will make changes to its current attitude, while at the same time expressing his disappointment. Furthermore, King prefaces this section with a statement that he is a man “who loves the church,” (34) and “was nurtured in its bosom” (34) in order to establish his credibility and appeal to ethos. He suggests that he knows the church…show more content…
The author extends his gratitude toward them through the use of figurative language, particularly imagery. For instance, he claims that these religious leaders have “carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment” (43). This image of light in the midst of darkness appeals to emotion. By creating this sense of hope, King inspires the audience to join him in his fight for desegregation. Though it is undoubtedly disappointing that there is a lack of support from the majority of clergymen, King conveys his faith in them through this image and shifts his focus from disappointment to
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