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"Letter from Birmingham Jail" - Allusion

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Emily Parks

on 14 February 2014

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Transcript of "Letter from Birmingham Jail" - Allusion

"Letter from Birmingham Jail" - Allusion
An indirect reference to an event, figure, or piece of literature that refrains from explicitly mentioning the subject in order to bring an image or thought to the audience's mind

Purpose, cont.
Types of Allusion
Classical/ mythical (Greek, Roman)
Although King's direct audience was his "fellow clergymen", the letter was also directed towards the people of Birmingham and attracted a national audience.
King wrote the letter to clarify his goals for the Civil Rights Movement and to specify his intentions of protesting through non-violent means. He also hoped to establish his good standing and gain a wider support group for the movement.
Thesis Statement
King's letter impacted the audience and provided evidence through the establishment of a common background by implementing historical and religious allusions in order to declare his reasoning and intentions towards the Civil Rights Movement.
Emily Parks, Aranka Barbe, Richa Patel, Amy Prescott, Amir Bnchaita, Emily Arjona
Authors may use an allusion to earn good standing with their audiences be references highly esteemed figures, establishing credibility by borrowing some of their popularity.
Various emotions are appealed to through the reference of events or figures that have left a strong cultural impression, such as the influence of religion or some traumatic event on local society.
Through the reference past sequences of events, the mentioning cultural instructions (such as religious directions), or the bringing up of the successes and failures of strong figures, the audience is compelled to think and compare such with the author's viewpoint.

The use of allusions is quite effective in the sense that they allow the audience to create connections in their minds. The connections lead to understanding what King is trying to suggest through his letter. The biblical allusions specifically establish a common background between King and his audience.
Effectiveness, cont.
The commonality allows them to comprehend in an easier manner. In addition, the audience would respond quite positively to his assertions. The fellow clergymen and protestors are able to gain a renewed hope, inspiration, and motivation by referring to religion. Although there are other types of allusions that are present in the letter, there is an eminent use of biblical allusions that have a severe effect towards his audience.
Strategy Analysis
1. “Segregation, to use the terminology of Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes on “I-it” relationship for an “I-thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things”(265). [Religion]
2. “…St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law”(265). [Biblical]
3. “Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “ ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you ‘ “(269). [Biblical]

Strategy Analysis, cont.
4. “Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws”(265). [Historical]
5. “Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town”(262). [Biblical]

Emily P and Aranka
Emily P and Aranka
Emily P and Aranka
Emily P and Aranka
Amir and Emily A
Amir and Emily A
Amir and Emily A
Richa and Amy
Richa and Amy
Richa and Amy
Richa and Amy
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