Rhetorical Analysis Of Letter From Birmingham Jail

826 words - 3 pages

In the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail) written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the three artistic appeals of Aristotle are plainly apparent, especially logos. Dr. King repeatedly appeals to logos (Ruszkiewicz) throughout the entire piece; particularly when he says he was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist then gradually gained a matter of satisfaction from the label. He is very impassioned in his language and tone in this part of the letter, yet still makes a strong argument for logic. Despite the overwhelming emotional and personal investment involved Dr. King still allows logic to prevail thus lending him a huge amount of credibility. As a member of the community being persecuted in this case, he might have had trouble remaining objective but clearly he doesn’t let his own pathos take center stage. All in all the use of logic and concise reasoning make a strong argument for the effectiveness of the letter in general.
The tone set by Dr. King in the part of the letter where he describes “pent-up resentments and latent frustrations,” and where he recognizes the “vital urge” being suppressed, is very passionate. His passion shines through loud and clear. The way Dr. King feels is, in fact, quite clear throughout the entire letter, yet the overriding sense of reason and logic that anyone can relate to is ever apparent. As he describes the unrest he finds in his community, the community as a whole really; he explains that he did not encourage them to “get rid of your [their] discontent” he instead encouraged them to, “make prayer pilgrimages to city hall;… go on freedom rides,… and try to understand why he [they] must do so”; these quotes from the letter point out the ways Dr. King emboldened his followers to be active nonviolently. Yet he is coined an extremist by his detractors for the very practices that he used to avoid extreme action. Using logic in the face of fallacy is undeniably effective no matter the subject.
The use of logos (Ruszkiewicz) in the argument made by Dr. King proves that reason does rule over emotion, at least in the words he was able to get on paper. Even the use of paper was withheld initially to Dr. King and yet his words shine through the murk of politics and the depths of pathos. No matter what beliefs were held throughout Alabama at the time, it is hard to disagree with a point made so obvious through common...

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