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The Modes of Persuasion in “Letter From Birmingham Jail”

The persuasion of the speech is often assessed by standards set by the great philosopher Aristotle. He divided the structure of an effective pitch into logos, ethos, and pathos. Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail is recognized as one of American history’s most persuasive writings. It was so compelling that it led to the Civil Rights Movement in the second half of the 20th century. The letter contains all three modes of speech that helped to deliver African Americans’ discrimination problems to people.

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Logos refers to the logic and evidence that prove the speaker’s claims. King uses common sense to reason his words and prove his peaceful intentions. For instance, he writes that he has gone through all the nonviolent movement steps, including gathering all information about injustices, negotiation, redemption, and straightforward actions. He reasons why it is necessary to break the law to reach justice as the law was fundamentally created for justice. The author comments that African Americans do not have access to education by quoting a black woman who does not follow the literacy rule. Furthermore, he suggests that any law must not violate Americans’ most essential values, such as spirit and individuality. It is reasonable to safeguard the basic constructs given by God for any person regardless of his or her race.

The credibility of the speaker on a particular subject is characterized by ethos. The writer uses ethos when he presents himself as a knowledgeable man who has also experienced black people’s suffers. He mentions his prior position as the head of the Christian community in the South that illustrates him as a respectable, intelligent person who is on the same level as the clergymen. He also refers to the fact that he has a spiritual practice background and can talk about faith and morals. Additionally, he indicates that he is in the southern region, where equal rights are more intense. Moreover, the word choice, sentence length, and style of the writing demonstrate King’s education and prove his trustworthiness.

Pathos is the most critical part of any persuasive speech that delivers the emotions of the speaker. The most logical words will not reach the audience if they do not express deep feelings. Pathos is the mode that makes Letter from Birmingham Jail so powerful and moving. The author calls the hearts of readers by highlighting the similarities between him and his readers. For example, he talks about the belief in one God and his belonging to the same religion as the clergymen and many Americans. He writes about the conditions in prison and expresses his pain regarding his stay in Birmingham. King emphasizes his genuine love for the church and his struggle about not being able to visit it. He states that he and the audience are on the same side and should fight together against the governmental system’s unrighteousness.

To sum up, King’s work has a practical structure that helps to achieve the aims of the author. The letter consists of three modes of persuasive speech: ethos, logos, and pathos. Each plays a crucial role in conveying the issue of unjust rules against African American people in the 20th century. The author skillfully uses reasoning, facts about his past, faith, and feelings about the laws that discriminate against the country’s people to write the persuasive text.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'The Modes of Persuasion in “Letter From Birmingham Jail”'. 20 March.

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