English 10 Honors Pre-AP
11 February 2015
In the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” written by Martin Luther King Jr.,
King uses the three appeals to show credibility by using ethos to convince people he's a reliable or valid source to listen to. King uses logos to convince readers of the soundness of his arguments. King appeals to pathos by his demonstration of the common African-American experience at the time as being segregated and subjected to oppression. King's credibility and argumentative ability are shown through use of these appeals as well as multiple rhetorical devices. He wrote this letter while in a jail in Birmingham, Alabama on April 16 of 1963. His purpose was to convince his fellow clergymen to realize the value of the non-violent protests in which he and other blacks have participated and see the importance of them. The first person perspective of “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” shows King's personal perspective and interest in the fight for Civil Rights. “Letter from a Birmingham
Jail" shows King's use of rhetorical strategies as well as the three appeals to demonstrate his ability to convince other religious leaders of the need for Civil
King's letter appeals to pathos by representing the deplorable state of
African-American experience during Civil Rights and before. He shows emotional appeal by writing, “
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..”
He uses pathos when he mentions the lynching of one's relatives or the cursing from or killing, and is appealing to pathos by showing what the negative aspects of the African-American experience are at that time. King also appeals to pathos by using metaphors of a 'cup of endurance' and 'abyss of despair.' which show the emotional state of people impacted by the Civil Rights movement: anxious for action and impatient to gain equal rights. The 'abyss of despair' and 'cup of endurance' both use figurative language to demonstrate an appeal to a certain emotion which his audience would understand. King illustrates this through the quote that, “
There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair” (King). He uses hurried, sad language such as 'cup of despair' to show the other clergymen how people feel.
King's appeals to emotion demonstrate his experience with the feelings of people during the Civil Rights movement and show the interconnectedness of his audience.
One literary device King uses is anaphora. One purpose of anaphora is to show the connection between the experiences he describes by mentioning them in an interchangeable format. The substitution of anaphora lets King show the common experience of African-American people fighting for Civil Rights. This rhetorical
device allows King to show how these ideas are similar, and to highlight how the
African-American experience under segregation differs from the white experience. The use of anaphora in King's letter demonstrates the common experiences of the African-American people and provides background for why many people are fighting for Civil Rights. The use of anaphora in King's Letter demonstrates the common experiences of the African-American people and provides background for why many people are fighting for Civil Rights.
King shows his ethos or credibility through describing 'the honor of serving as the leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. “
I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta,
This shows his credibility to the other religious leaders through his position and also demonstrates his knowledge of religious topics. He mentions morality as one way