Use of Rhetorical Devices in Letter from Birmingham Jail

Usage of Rhetorical Gadgets in Letter from Birmingham Prison

Usage of Rhetorical Devices in Letter from Birmingham Jail Letter From Birmingham Prison In King’s essay, “Letter From Birmingham Prison”, King brilliantly employs using numerous rhetorical strategies that are essential in effectively affecting critics of his philosophical views on civil disobedience. King’s eloquent attract the logical, emotional, and most significantly, ethical and spiritual side of his audience, serves to make “Letter From Birmingham Jail” among the most moving and convincing literary pieces Of the 20th century.

In Birmingham. Ala., in the spring of 1963, King’s project to end segregation at lunch counters and segregated iring practices drew across the country attention when police turned attacks dogs and fire pipes on peaceful demonstrato& & King was jailed together with a great deal ot his supporters, including numerous schoolchildren. When white clergy, highly opposed to Kings position on nonviolent passive resistance, released a declaration urging the blacks not to support the demonstrations.

King penned a letter of exceptional eloquence which defined his viewpoint of nonviolence disobedience. In “Letter From Birmingham Prison”, King expresses his severe disappointment over the criticism of his leadership by Alabama clergymen, is understanding of why oppressed people need to withstand their injustice, and his deep faith in the essential decency of all Americans, In “Lerrer From Birmingham Jail” King demonstrates extraordinary literary expertise through his proficiency of a number of rhetorical strategies to persuade.

King’s strategy to influence his audience in “Letter From Birmingham Prison” is that ofa three-pronged approach. In an attempt to sway his fellow clergymen King argues his position with enthusiasm and conviction as he respectfully interest the sensible, emotional and spiritual psyche of his critics, Kings first attempt to reach his reader is hrough his attract their reasoning or reasoning. He does this by presenting a direct relationship between the thinking for his position versus partition and argument for it’s resulting actions of civil disobedience by those oppressed by it.

This technique is most apparent When King provides the reasoning for his statement, “I have actually practically reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride towards liberty is not the White Person’s Councilor or the Klu Klux Klanner, but the White moderate, Who is more dedicated to ‘order’ than to justice” (100 ). He deduces the truth that the white moderate oes not seem to recognize the gravity of their non-action.

King even more states that laws are developed to promote justice and with their existing amoral application, civil resistance ro those segregated laws by blacks is justified and inescapable. King continues he logical argument when he exhorts the reader to evaluate the quote Of an elderly black lady Who comments, “My feets is tired however my soul is at. rest” (168 ). King acknowledges that although her declaration is grammatical inaccurate, and her illiteracy apparent, she is still cognizant of the magnitude of oppression suffered by Blacks under segregation.

King nderstands that to interact such a controversial position successfully; logic alone will not be sufficient. To reach even deeper into the psyche of his reader King likewise attempts to interest the reader’s emotional side. By presenting vibrant details to describe the predicament of himself and other Blacks, King provides the chance for us to vicariously experience the heartbreaking feelings in the every day lives Of African Americans under the laves Of partition.

These poignant images are comprehensive With striking clearness when King writes, “Owhen you all of a sudden find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to describe o your sex-year-old daughter why she cant go to the public theme park that has actually simply been marketed on tv, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored kids” (157-58), A more effort by King to generate an emotional response to partition is through his liberal usage of metaphors and word repetition.

Through his use of the extended metaphor of a rainstorm King moves the reader through the dispirited feelings of the “dark clouds of racial bias,” “deep fog of misconception” and “tear-drenched neighborhoods- to the promising vision of a future that illuminates ith “The glowing stars of love and brotherhood” that in some nor too long run will “shine over our fantastic country with all their scintillating appeal” (169 ).

Lastly, King’s use of recurring language punctuates his attract the emotion by emphasizing his points as if they were accompanied by the pounding of his fist King develops both psychological momentum and he writes, “Was not Jesus an extremist,” “Was not Amos an extremist,” “Was not Paul an extremistn” King’s last approach at convincing rhe readers of “Letter From Birmingham Prison” is one real to his natural calling: an appeal to the spiritual nature of man.

Born the child of a Georgia minister, King is strongly influenced by the spiritual principles of Christianity. Because spiritual leaders of the community were frequently the most reputable and admired, King sawthe church as a way for fantastic social change tor African-Americans. gy estimating spiritual leaders like St. Augustine, “an unjust law is no law ar all” (158 ), King advises his clergy brethren that his very first calling is that of a spiritual leader and his mission is one that is of the greatest ethical calling.

King further showing his understanding of the conditions and circumstances of early Christian leaders when he draws a contrast between is circumstance and that of the apostle Paul when he composes, -Like Paul, should continuously react to rhe Macedonian call tor help” (16m Petitioning to the readers moral conscience King beliefs that righteous minded individuals are more apt to intervene against injustice if asked to question their own principles.

Through his references to history, his classy prose, and his thoughtful analysis of the condition of Blacks, his essay exposes an author of remarkable skill and intellect His rhetorical approach in detailing the variation of the oppressed, bold, non-violent people ot his era shows that “Letter from Birmingham Prison” lacks concern, among most important files of the civil liberties movement.

Kings ability to interact the predicament of the disenfranchised of American society helped galvanize a generation and change the social material of a whole nation. Functions Cited King Jr., Martin C “Letter From Birmingham Jail”. A World of Ideas. Ed. Lee A. Jacobus. Boston,’New York City: Bedford/St. Martins, 1998. 153-69 Zepp, Ira G, Jr. The Social Vision of Martin Luther King Jr. New York: Carlson Publishing Inc., 1984 123-47 Walton, Hanes The Political Viewpoint of Martin Luther KingJr, New York City: Greenwood press, 1971

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