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Letters From A Birmingham Jail Essay

1526 words - 6 pages

Letters from a Birmingham Jail

Aristotle is a very citable man when it comes to the way we think today. His rhetoric techniques are still being used in today's society. The Neo-Aristotelian Criticism is three different appeals of persuasion. This is ethos, pathos and logos, which makes one heck of a convincing argument. Ethos gives credibility, pathos shows emotion and logos uses words. In the text, Letter from Birmingham Jail, we find many examples of the criticism. Martin Luther King Jr. is writing a letter from inside the jail of Birmingham in April of 1963. This letter King wrote was in response to a letter he received from the religious leaders after King is making a stand against the racial issues in Alabama. These leaders stand firm in their letter when they say that when rights are being denied, they should be handled in the courts with negotiations and not in the streets. The authorities have placed Martin Luther King Jr. against his own will after his demonstration of desegregation. While incarcerated, King managed to find anything and everything to write this letter that is now famous for being a link to the end of public racism all over the nation. The content of the letter is filled with appeals of ethos, pathos and logos, which is necessary to make a strong argument.

The first area of the Neo-Aristotelian criticism we are going to look at is the ethos. As defined earlier, ethos gives credibility. This deals with the ethics of right and wrong as society sees fit. A strong point of ethos appeals is its powerful effect on the reader. The down side to this is it's hard to get yet easy to lose. As we analysis this artifact, we find an example in the second paragraph. King gives a brief description of his background serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. This shows how Martin Luther King Jr. has a sense of right and wrong under a religious point of view. King goes on to talk about how this affiliation is across the south and this goes to show the ethics, because these eighty-five groups who believe the same thing, can't be wrong for what they believe in.

On the fifth page of the text, King gives an example of Adolf Hitler and what he did was "legal" in Germany. Hitler was the maker of his own rules for his country, and due to his status didn't make his actions correct. At that time I'm sure there were those who came against Hitler and were punished for it, just as King was being punished for his stand. Ethics is based on societies views as right and wrong, not on what is written down in black and white. Today as we look at history we see that Hitler was wrong for what did, and we see King was right for wanting a better nation for everyone including African-Americans.

Top of the seventh page is another great example of ethos in this letter. Martin Luther King Jr. makes reference to Jesus, Amos, Paul, Martin Luther, John Bunyan, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson for all being an...

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