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Letter from Birmingham Jail Rhetorical Analysis

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Marcus Thornton

on 29 November 2012

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Transcript of Letter from Birmingham Jail Rhetorical Analysis

Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail
Rhetorical Analysis Marcus Thornton Rhetorical Devices... Metaphor Rhetorical Question Examples.. "We are caught in an inescapable network of Mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny." "... the shadow of deep disappointment..." "We must see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create this kind of tension..." "...help men rise from the dark depths of prejuduce and racism to the majestic heights of understanding an brotherhood." "...we stiff creep at a horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter." "...the stinging dart of segregation..." "...ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky..." "... men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair." "...the rabid segregationist..." "...the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom..." "like a boil that can never be cured as long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light..." "...to the light of human consciousness and the air of national opinion..." "Human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability..." "...lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity." "...many of the streets of the South, I am sure, would be flowing with blood." "How we have blemished and scarred that body..." "In those days the church was not merely a thermometer... It was a thermostat..." "The paralyzing chains of conformity..." "they carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of dissapointment." "The dark clouds of racial prejudice... fear drenched communities... radient stars of love..." Effects... In Martin Luther King's letter, he often uses metaphor to... Clarify his points through comparisons... ... and to draw attention to specific aspects of his arguments through the use of vivid imagery. Martin Luther king typically uses metaphor to manipulate either Logos or Pathos Example: "In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, a would a rabid segregationist."
"I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's greatest stumbling block is not..." Example: "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny."
"As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep dissapointment settled upon us." Examples... "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating? Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" "Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust?" "Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected?" "Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?" "But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion?" "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?" "How could I do otherwise?" "But for what purpose?" "but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?" Effects... Martin Luther King uses Rhetorical questions in his letter to... Present the arguments of his opposition, and... To suggest specific action to his audience. Martin Luther King uses Rhetorical questions mainly to affect logos in his letter Example: "You may well ask: Why Direct action?"
"A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can then say that the legislature of Alabama which set up the states segregation laws was democratically elected?" These emotional and logical appeals help connect Martin Luther King's article to his audience, making it clearer and easier to understand, as well as giving it purpose and illustrating how it is logically sound
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