Mr.. King uses many rhetorical situations and persuasive appeals. King writes this letter, In my opinion, to the audience of the American people. I feel the persuasive techniques, the structuring of sentence and the content expressed was Intended to force the American white middle class’ eyes open to the blatant disregard of the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 – outlawing segregation In public schools.
A short minded assessment of the letter may conclude that the deter was solely written as a response to a statement titled “A Call for unity”, made by eight white Alabama clergymen. Though his heartfelt vividly emotional accounts and the eloquent semblance of rhetoric Is addressed to “My Dear Fellow Clergymen”, It Is my opinion he composed the letter to be contemplated by a much larger audience. This paper will discuss the rhetorical triangle used by King In the form of ethos (ethics), pathos (emotional content) and logos (logic).
Let us consider the ethos or ethical form of communicating to ones audience. Ethos Is fined as “a rhetoric technique used to directly appeal to an authority in order to strengthen your argument”. (Wisped. Org ). This form of written or verbal communication is used with ten Intention AT snowing ten reader Tanat ten speaker or writer NAS moral connecter. King uses ethos frequently in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. The reference that struck me the deepest was when King described the seemingly ethical use of written yet unjust laws by Adolph Hitler.
King writes, “We should never forget that everything Doll Hitler did in Germany was legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal”. It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitter’s Germany. ” (King 4). This statement in Mr.. Kings letter serves to ask the eight clergymen to look into their own hearts and individually reflect on whether they are blind sheep following unjust laws directed toward the southern negro. I feel King’s ability to reference extreme ethical issues as a comparison to how the negro has been treated is a powerful tool to get his point across.
Next let’s discuss the logos or logical wedge of writing. Logos is defined as “thought, speech, account, meaning, reasoning, proportion, principle, standard or logic”. (Wisped. Org). Logic makes the writer or speaker seem prepared or knowledgeable. Logic is hard to manipulate; therefore it is more difficult to argue against. Logos is used throughout Kings letter although never more affective than in this statement, “Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts.
There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes Ana censures in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts f the case. ” ( King 1 ). Mr.. King pins his readers down with this statement like the pinning off wrestler to the mat tapping out for mercy because submission is the only recourse. His words are non- refutable, and the emotions attached to his statement are easily experienced by the reader. Pathos or the emotional content is the final but most effective method of communication.
Pathos is the “band-wagon” ( wisped. Org ) approach to manipulating your reading to act in a certain fashion. The author attempts to have you Jump on his band-wagon thus joining the Ritter in the belief that this is a commonly held conviction. Pathos is used further along in a letter, story or article. I look at Pathos as the hook that is dug deep into your heart after the writer’s credibility has been established and your ethical emotional door has been opened ever so slightly.
This next reference is by far the most effective rhetorical tool used by King, “But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers mothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old gaunter winy she can’t go to the public amusement park that has Just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Function is closed to colored children… “. This is only part of the emotional assault that King uses in an attempt to sway the reader to his side of the thinking fence. I think you would agree it is effective.