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Letter From Birmingham Jail Literary Devices


Letter From Birmingham Jail Literary Devices

Persuasive Appeals King uses numerous convincing appeals to establish his trustworthiness and to engage his audience. The three main convincing appeals include the appeal to emotion (pathos), the interest character or authority (principles), and the attract reason (logo designs). When King uses the example of a little woman with “tears welling up in her eyes” (92) as her parent explains to her that racism prevents her from attending a theme park, the idea of an innocent kid bearing the psychological burden of rejection plucks the heart strings of the reader and hence makes the reader more sympathetic to the abused mankind of African-Americans.

King utilizes ethos to establish his authority with his primary audience of 8 Alabama clergymen. King regularly counts on sources and examples drawn from Christianity. For example, when he reacts to the clergymen’s criticism that he is an outsider, he reacts by highlighting the example of “prophets of the 8th century B. C. [who] left their towns and brought their ‘hence saith the Lord’ far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, [and] … the Apostle Paul [, who] left his town of Tarsus and brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world” as a precedent for his own work outside of his hometown (86 ).

King also uses reason, in the kind of truths and reasoning, to convince his audience that now is the time for action. To counter the clergymen’s argument that the demonstrations are ill-timed, King describes the actions involved in a nonviolent,direct-action project and provides evidence that he and his associate followed each of these steps (87-88). Nearly every paragraph of the essay includes some form of convincing appeal. King’s experienced use of multiple appeals makes his argument encouraging to the multiple audiences he addresses. Metaphor A metaphor is specified as the implied comparison of 2 unlike things.

King utilizes metaphor throughout the essay to interact feeling and make abstract concepts more concrete. For example, King asks the reader to think of the effect of seeing “the vast majority of your twenty million Negro siblings smothering in an airtight cage of hardship in the midst of a wealthy society” (92 ). The metaphor “airtight cage” implicitly compares relatively abstract structures that create racism, including class and organizations, to a cage, in order to help the reader comprehend that African-Americans feel completely trapped by systemic bigotry.

Envisioning life in America as living in a cage likewise has an emotional effect. King likewise utilizes metaphor to create a mood in specific moments in the essay. For example, King closes the letter with the hope that: the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be raised from our worry soaked neighborhoods, and in some not too far-off tomorrow the glowing stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating charm (112 ).

This system of metaphors is drawn from the weather condition, with bad weather condition corresponded with prejudice and misunderstanding and clear weather connected with love and equality. By putting the vision of a sky filled with “radiant love and brotherhood” prior to the readers, King highlights the hopefulness at the center of his message and lightens the state of mind produced by his denunciation of Christian complacency in the previous paragraph. King’s usage of metaphors not just produces an appealing read that catches the audience’s imagination, but it likewise works as support for his attempts to convince his readers of his position.

Simile A simile is a direct comparison in between 2 unlike things to reveal a resemblance. King utilizes similes to dramatize concepts in the essay. For instance, King uses this simile to explain the rate of change in the United States and abroad: “The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed towards acquiring political self-reliance, but we still sneak at horse and buggy rate towards acquiring a cup of coffee at a lunch counter” (91-92).

The contrast between a horse and buggy and a jet is plain; such a contrast would be especially galling to most American readers, who tended during the period to associate the U. S. with technological progress and countries on other continents with backwardness. By utilizing contrasts in between modes of transport that are so significantly different, King helps to reveal that the U. S. is far behind in terms of achieving racial equality and not likely to make up the range. Anaphora is the repeating of a phrase at the start of a series of sentences to emphasize an essential concept.

King uses this gadget multiple times throughout the essay. The most powerful example of this device remains in the series of sentences that start with “when you have actually seen”/ “when you see,” beginning on page 92. King’s use of anaphora in this circumstances provides a frustrating brochure of the numerous ways African-Americans are reminded of their inferiority in a segregated society. The presence of the duplicated expressions is used to counter the argument that African-Americans have actually in some way been too rash in protesting in 1963.

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