Rhetorical Devices Used In Martin Luther King's Letter From Birmingham Jail

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Effective works of literature are often overflowing with the use of rhetorical devices; they help connect the reader to the writing. The same applies to arguments. In order to get a point across, the speaker must first know how to manipulate the minds of his audience. This is exactly what Martin Luther King, Jr. did in his Letter from Birmingham Jail. He somehow rearranged the twenty-six letters of the alphabet into a peaceful argument that responded to a group of criticizing clergymen. I’ve chosen to discuss two of the devices he used to make this argument so effective: tone and pathos. The tone of the letter portrays King’s attitude towards different subjects. The first example of this is seen in the quote, “I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who…show more content…
The first example of pathos is seen in the quote, “ We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed” (King 3). This statement supports King’s argument by expressing how his people can no longer wait for their freedom, because if they do, it’ll never come. In this case, good things do not come to those who wait. The second example of pathos is seen when King says, “If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church. it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century” (King 9). He uses pathos in his argument to show how the church means nothing if it is not willing to sacrifice for the better. How could you call yourself “a man of God” if you can’t accept all of his children? King believes white Christians must sacrifice to stand up for their fellow colored brothers and sisters. That’s what the church is about after all, showing
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