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Analysis of Martin Luther King's Letters to the Birmingham Jail

Zoya M., Eureka Springs, AR By Z.V.Oksana, harrison, AR

In Martin Luther King’s letters written in a Birmingham jail, he uses Aristotelian appeals to 8 clergymen by addressing ethos, logos, and pathos in order to move the people of America. King takes a crucial step to change the minds of these clergymen as well as America by breaking down what they stand for into individualized pieces, calling to their ethos, their morality. Although both logos and pathos are prominent in his letter, Ethos has the greatest impact. King understands the makeup of these men, being a “fellow clergymen and christian brother” himself. By beginning his letter with a strong sense of ethos, “I feel that you are all men of genuine good will”, he guaranteed the attention from the clergymen. He makes references to the most important figures of history, such as “Apostle Paul” and speaks of how he “carried the gospel for Jesus” and Socrates, and how he “Made a tension in the mind” that deciphers the truth from the false.

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