Martin Luther King Jr. “Letter From Birmingham Jail”

1222 words - 5 pages

Martin Luther King's use of figurative language in "Letter from Birmingham Jail" is an effective way for him to reinforce his thesis about non-violent protest and race discrimination. The figurative language in the letter enhances the letters persuasive qualities of pathos, ethos, and logos to evoke emotion and sway readers toward King's point of view. King is the President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was formed in 1957. He was arrested for protests of a non-violent nature against racial injustices in Birmingham, Alabama and wrote this letter to the eight Alabama clergymen while in jail. Through the figurative language in his letter he creates a bridge between his letter and white moderates, so that all readers can see his point of view.Developing the quality of pathos in a piece of writing is a way of shaping the readers feelings. King appeals to the emotions of the people thorough his use of pathos. He explains that he is in the Birmingham jail because of injustices that took place in Birmingham Alabama. He says: 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. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.King states how the Apostle Paul carried the gospel of Jesus Christ over the land, and thus compares himself to him. One way King addresses the eight clergymen and justifies his presence in Birmingham is by comparing himself to the Apostle Paul. He is trying to take the gospel of freedom over the land of America. This idea relates to peoples emotion because most people are religious and believe in God and Jesus Christ. Comparing himself to the Apostle Paul strikes deep emotion in most people and is almost saying that he is trying to do the work of God by trying to achieve true freedom. This analogy is great example of pathos and King's use of it appeals to the emotion through examples and figurative language. King uses pathos not just from the Bible but also by evolving ideas from World War II: We should never forget that everything Adolf 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 Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.Here King refers to all the horrible laws that Hitler created in Germany before World War II. He cites how, "It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany." He is using this...

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