Essay Sample Analyzing Dr. King's Letter from Birmingham Jail

Published: 2022-03-25
Essay Sample Analyzing Dr. King's Letter from Birmingham Jail
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Martin Luther King
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1231 words
11 min read

Work evaluation is crucial in any precise papers. Critic analysis is a significant feedback strategy to show the quality of written work (Reeves, 2011, p. 61). This paper will evaluate the effectiveness of the letter written by Dr. Kind's letter from Birmingham jail in context of three rhetorical appeals. The message is well written covering the various elements, functions, and logic of quality writing. Though, lengthy the letter addresses eight clergymen with rhetorical representation to reveal their inner selves. This discussion will revolve around the three rhetorical aspects applied by Dr. King to efficiently deliver his message to his audience. The paper also critics the choices and the reasoning of Dr. King on his stay and purpose in Birmingham jail.

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Any written work can fail to achieve its primary goal due to the higher or lower concerns that puzzle its composition. Significant misgivings like content, organization, creativity, and logic give any written text the contextual sense over minor issues like grammatical, punctuation, and structure. Moreover, mutual understanding of particular concerns depends on the purpose of writing (Evers, 2014). For instance, in the letter from Dr. King, the use of three elements makes his work appealing to his audience.

The letter is structured in eight major sections as symbolic representation of the clergy. The rhetorical perspective on the clergy gives the social representation of the society and situations facing them. The sections had rhetorical concerns on social norms and ills facing marginalized communities in revolutionized America. Though Dr. King does not subject his critics to individual he directs them to groups of people with imagery representation of the clergy. Section one of the letter shows his criticism on racism. On this note, Dr. King enlightens the clergy on his consent and perceptions on matters regarding racial hatred and exempting himself from the situation. Further, in this section, he explains his social placement in social standing. He makes it known to them that calling him an outsider does not make him less a protestant. Using justifiable grounds, Dr. King explains his role in Birmingham jail more of a preacher than a convict. On this standing he talks of the interrelationship of all people despite their color, emotional or financial status (Rothman, 2015).

In section two, Dr. King challenges the clergy on their perception of his kind. He explains the circumstantial situation black community finds themselves in due to situations they find themselves in without a choice. Here, he nonviolently attacks them for their ignorance on social injustices black community face. Section three he touches on the blacks long wait for justice while part four he highlights the rights and wrongs advocated for as an activist against racism. All the least of the subsequent sections develop the issues Dr. King felt needed an emotional, ethical and logical address to put to records the social and historical injustices suffered by the black community. The primary idea revolving the subdivision of the long letter was to ensure that he took the clergymen into a demonstrative illustration of the black citizens. It was in his interest to ensure that his concepts were well understood by third-party readers to provide that complications faced in jail and other free blacks were pathetic and solvable. In his pretext, he structured his letter in eight sections as a symbolic representation of the audience while the content of the message covered issues outside the clergymen context (Kennon, 2017).

The literal meaning of the letter fails to show the contextual meaning used to write the letter. Dr. King used three rhetorical appeals to catch the audience's hearts on moral and religious grounds. The use of these appeals helped to table the sensitive matters at hand without directly critiquing offenders of social justice. Primarily, Dr. King used logical suits for the argumentative situations his critics provide. The logical appeal capitalized on political suicide pushed to the black citizens due to their skin color. He gives valid arguments to demonstrate how just and unjust laws oppress the people. In this pretext, he appeals using emotional elements to show how justified rules followed by the minorities regardless of race, but unfair laws require breaking (Kennon, 2017).

Rhetorical applications of ethical appeals make Dr. Kings symbolic and sarcastically narrate his situation in jail as a reward rather than a punishment. He refers to himself as the president of e Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) without ethical explicitly to prove the facts. His argument bases moral grounds by respectfully honoring protocol to reply his letter addressing issues raised by preceding letters from the clergy. Dr. King acknowledges their concerns and makes the situation clear for them in critique to their perceptions (Rothman, 2015). In the emotional plea, the message is anchored by the suffering of the black community to portray the misery brought by unjust treatment. Here, he outlines vivid scenarios of situations faced by black citizens to emotionally relate to the situation (Evers, 2014).

Of the three rhetorical pleas, Dr. King used the logical appeal more than the rest. The use of consistent request gave his audience a similar and comprehensive picture of the situations faced by black people in the ruse of the available laws, Christianity, and humanity. The logical perspective was precise and accurate to communicate to the audience the matters of concern with imagery and sarcastic narration of situations. For instance;

"....................lets deliberate on a more clear-cut case of just and unjust laws. The unfair law bindings minority groups by abiding by difficult situations adhered to by powerful majority groups without conforming to the law themselves. This was regarded legal ground difference and marginalization...." (p. 14)

In this exemplified text, Dr. King explains the logic of compelling just legislation to show its inappropriateness to some members of the society. The use of relevant examples to depict the situations of the marginalized blacks gives the audience an open mind on matters needing insightful redress. Consequently, Dr. King engages his audience's emotional being a pathological plea to make sense of situations subjected to Black Americans, an example;

....... As you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter the reasons for depriving her off chances like other kids to visit recreation centers like the amusement pack advertised on the television, desperation floods her when she is enlightened on the closure of Funtown for color kids.......... (p.12)

The example calls the audience's attention to the hopelessness of the situations black community finds themselves. Dr. King profoundly exemplifies the pain and agony suffered in silence by minority groups in the society. On a soft touch, he can challenge the criminal justice system and other recreation engagements of the people revealing the unsuspected pain inflicted to marginalized persons.


Critical analysis of Dr. King's letter from Birmingham jail gives an insight into historical injustices brought to books in the chronological arrangement. The liturgy perspective given to the context of the letter symbolizes the religious significance of social injustices and political stability. The letter uses a lot of imagery to portray the hypocritical society black Americans suffer due to their color. The addressed matters fall under the ethos, logos, and pathos appeals showing the different perspectives in life where black community suffers injustices.


Evers, T. (2014). Essential Elements: English language Arts. Madison: Wisconsin Department of public Instruction.

Kennon, J. (2017). The color of Law: Letter from a Birmingham Jail Written By Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. April 16, 1963. Kennon-Green & Co.

Rothman, L. (2015). Why MLK Was Jailed in Birmingham. California, Times Inc.

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