Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in 'Letter From Birmingham Jail' Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  616 Words
Date:  2022-06-22

Dr. King is an orator who is well known for his ability to have speeches that moved people and drove them into action. In his text, 'Letter from Birmingham Jail' he manages to tug the readers' heartstrings and inspire them to think critically about the issues that were affecting them at the time. It is interesting to note that he often hints that he appreciates the moral authority of the Christian tradition, the ideals and the general pain of the African American community. This paper intends to analyze each aspect of rhetoric namely, ethos, pathos, and logos in his Letter from Birmingham Jail.

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One of the things that the work uses modestly is the use of ethos. This is elaborated since except for the fact that he introduces himself as the president of SCLC, there is a minimal reference to his position and the influence that it is supposed to have on the people. He instead acknowledges the highest moral authority to be Jesus and the most celebrated political influencer that has ever lived (King, 24). Instead, the manner in which he positions the arguments hint at his ethical position and the way he presents his claim of a moral truth that is higher than the laws and the ordinances that were present. The fact that he mentions some of the historical influencers hint at the fact that he was one that was in line with the freedom fighters and other visionaries but also that he was one that had an ethical high ground(King, 17). The fact that he acknowledges the morality and the credibility of the very people that have slighted his efforts is also a move that tells one of the ethical standings of the speaker.

Pathos has been used generously across the work since despite his extensive use of ethos and logos in his other works, the need to highlight to the reader the way the African American suffer. For the arguments that Dr. King wanted to advance in his article to be sensible, one needs to understand why the situation that is discussed is unfair. For one to derive sense from the sufferings of the people, it is essential that one get a candid image of what black Americans had to face regarding segregation especially in the South (King, 12). His example of the fact that the colored children are conditioned to develop bitterness to the system that is bent on favoring the white is one that is bound to chug the hearts of any parent and hence understand the sense in his arguments (King, 12). Besides, his presentation of a flawed justice system is one that will be sensible to anyone and hence make the works to be one that is impactful to the people (King, 34). His speech is one that is meant to inspire sense and make the people understand about the struggles of the African Americans in a flawed system.

Logos in the text is one that is presented in a logical argument such that it becomes peculiar to the way the people are treated. The text talks in detail the political climate in the country and the consequences that recent elections held to an Africa American (King, 14). The text explains the importance of peaceful disobedience while disparaging the arguments that the white clergymen with detail and precision. He, for instance, states that it is essential to obey the laws, but the unjust one should be openly disobeyed (King, 14). The fact that he even goes into pain to defining to the reader the meaning of just and unjust laws logically communicates to the reader without involving the emotions that he had sparked.

Works Cited

King, Martin Luther. Martin Luther King. Little, Brown, 1999.

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Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in 'Letter From Birmingham Jail' Essay. (2022, Jun 22). Retrieved from

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