Rhetorical Essay Sample on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter

Published: 2022-12-15
Rhetorical Essay Sample on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter
Type of paper:  Critical thinking
Categories:  Martin Luther King American history
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1416 words
12 min read

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on 15th January 1929 to Martin Luther King Sr. who was a pastor and Alberta Williams King who was a former school teacher. He grew up in Sweet Auburn City together with his sister Christine and brother Daniel Williams. Luther attended segregated schools and at the age of 15 years got an admission to Morehouse College to study medicine and law. The president of Morehouse Dr. Benjamin mentored him to be a theologian and an advocate of equality although he had not planned to follow the footsteps of his father who was a pastor. The letter from Birmingham in Jail was written after King was arrested for leading the nonviolence protests to advocate for equality in United States America since segregation had become like a norm and the non-Americans were seen as second class citizens.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Ethos is one of the aspect of Aristotelian appeals which is used in literature to appeal to the ethical responsibilities of the audience or their general ethics ((Murthy, and Madhumit). To make the audience believe in the argument put across the element together with logos and pathos are used. It is through ethos that the reader understands the intentions of the writer or the speaker. Without this element, the speaker's credibility cannot be established. For the audience to believe in what a writer has presented, he must have the have authority on the field. Authority is very critical in writing although it does not mean that he/she should directly state his credentials. This should be indirectly presented in his work. Ethos is not used to appeal to the logic of the content but is rather incorporated with the aim of appealing to the emotions of the audience.

The letter from Birmingham in Jail written in April 1963 by Martin Luther King Jr. contains this literary element. The letter was a response to a newspaper statement that was written by some clergymen who did not believe that the approach he used (King Jr 74). He appealed to the emotions of the potential audience by defending his nonviolent strategies of dealing with racial segregation which had become rampant during that time. Martin Luther King Jr. experienced this discrimination as he was told to stand on a bus so that a white person can sit. This is why he was so passionate about fighting for equality in all spheres of life including employment. Luther was w educated so the credibility and authority of the letter could not be questioned.

Luther was a priest, and generally, people believe in what priests say so it was easy for him to gain the trust of the audience. He was an admirable and through the Birmingham letter he was able to appeal to the emotions of the audience. In page two first and second paragraph the author explains the reasons for the nonviolent protests thereby justifying his arguments to the audience (King Jr 75). "Nonviolent direct actions seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has consistently refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue."

Pathos is a tool used by speakers and writers to get the attention of their audience by getting their emotion connected to the idea that they want to connect to the audience ((Murthy, and Madhumit). Emotions make people think more about the story being talked about in terms of how the speaker tries to influence their lives using their ideas. Martin Luther King Jr. used pathos in his letter from the Birmingham jail. He was successful in persuading the target audience using the pathos method of persuasion. He caught the emotions of the target audience for the audience to relate to his thoughts (King Jr 76). Martin Luther King Jr. Wanted to make people have emotions that would motivate them into following the civil rights activists and choosing to become members of the activists' movement to fight for the right of the minority in the society.

The emotions that Martin Luther King Jr. enforced using pathos was to create empathy among the people towards the clergyman. Martin Luther King Jr. was addressing the challenges that the people were facing at the time where there were no equal rights among the people making some to be denied their rights by the constitution (King Jr 77). The pathos used by Martin Luther King Jr. was effective since the clergy responded by stating that they had waited for the rights for many years without success. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted the people who were discriminated to take action and fight for their rights. The black community was affected the most, and Martin Luther King Jr. wanted them to be recognized by having equal rights with their white counterparts.

The emotions were to make the discriminated people feel that they deserved to be treated better because they are also equal. The emotions would also affect the white oppressors to reconsider changing the constitution and give the discriminated groups in the society have equal opportunities and rights as well (King Jr 77). Using pathos, one can persuade people easily; hence they respond to the message being passed on quickly. Statements such as "We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." Made the people to be focused on their demand for equal rights.

Logos is the use of logic and reasoning to make the target audience to talk was its related to the people so that they agree with the appeal made (Murthy, and Madhumit). The words comprising the logos are clear to make the message understood by the target audience. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter was evident in the letter on what he believed that the challenges that the oppressed people in the society were facing. The letter from a Birmingham jail was clear on what they challenge the people faced and how Martin Luther King, Jr. believed would be the best way to solve the challenges.

Martin Luther King, Jr. stated on the letter that "'in any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: a collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action."(King Jr 74) The statement gives the activities the steps that they needed to take to lead a successful movement that could lead to change. The activists needed to have a clear way of conducting their activities. Having a clear goal keeps people motivated to achieve the goals that they have set to achieve within a given timeframe. The activists lacked a leader that would guide them in their activities and therefore Martin Luther Jr so the need to guide them in their activities through a letter.

Martin Luther junior stated that "So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here (King Jr 76). I am here because I have organizational ties here." He believed that if the people were united, they could achieve all that they wanted to achieve including being recognized by the constitution and getting all the rights that come with it. In the letter, he told the activists that "You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern." He encouraged the activists to ensure that the people are concerned about the movement for those in authority to get pressure from the people. The letter was successful in covering all the concern of King to the people who are the letter was addressed to.

Martin Luther effectively used the three appeals which help in convincing the audiences to believe in the arguments that he put across in the letter. The ethos was used in the letter to appeal to the emotions. The author did not struggle with credibility because he was educated and was a pastor and pastors are easily trusted. The letter also contains pathos which is used to connect the emotions and the idea presented by the speaker. By connecting the emotions and the ideas, he motivated people to support the civil rights movement. Additionally, he also incorporated logos in the Birmingham letter to support his strategy nonviolent protests. The audience is made to believe that nonviolent strategies work where no other approach is ineffective.

Works Cited

King Jr, Martin Luther. "Letter from Birmingham city jail." Civil disobedience in focus. Routledge, 2002. 74-79.

Murthy, D. Madhavi Latha, and Madhumita Ghosal. "A study on Aristotle's rhetoric." Research Journal of English Language and Literature, A peer Reviewed Int. Journal 2.4 (2014).

Cite this page

Rhetorical Essay Sample on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter. (2022, Dec 15). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/rhetorical-essay-sample-on-martin-luther-king-jrs-letter

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal:

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism