Use of Pathos in Letter from Birmingham Jail

In Martin Luther King Jr.r’s, Letter from Birmingham Jail, there is an abundant use of pathos through figurative language such as imagery and metaphors. Dr. King uses these rhetorical devices in order to counter the argument that his actions are untimely by appealing to the emotions of the clergymen. To begin the third conclusion, Dr. King references the counter-argument in the first conclusion where he quotes the clergymen in calling his actions untimely. He does so by stating I have never yet engaged in a direct action movement that was well timed, according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation.

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In this statement, Dr. King reveals that he will rebut this argument throughout the conclusion. In addition, by using the phrase suffered unduly and disease of segregation Dr. King also begins his use of pathos and figurative language. These devices are used in many different ways throughout this conclusion. One way in which he uses pathos is through religious language and referencing morality. This is an effective approach in using pathos because he is addressing clergymen, and their emotional ties to religion influence their opinions when reading his argument. For example, in his rebuttal Dr. King states that African Americans are waiting for their God-given rights. This line appeals to the emotions of the clergymen because as religious leaders they believe that everyone should always have their God-given rights.

Another way Dr. King uses both figurative language and pathos in his argument is through imagery and metaphors. King starts a long use of imagery and metaphors by saying Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say wait, which includes a metaphor that conveys the pain African Americans felt to the reader. He then continues with imagery depicting many different scenarios African Americans had to face because of segregation such as when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity. and when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of ?nobodiness. Dr. Kingsr’s use of imagery as an appeal to pathos is greatly effective because it allowed him to offer insight on the tragic treatment of African Americans. Additionally, these rhetorical devices provide perspective on feelings and experiences that the clergymen have never experienced but can imagine as a result of his words. Furthermore, when using imagery Dr. King gives scenarios of family members experiencing brutality in which the clergymen might identify with their own family. Dr. King then transitions into the conclusion of this argument with metaphors summarizing that waiting is no longer optional as the effects of injustice are unacceptable.

Finally, Dr. King ends with I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. This conclusion again addresses the untimely argument found in the first conclusion. As a result of Dr. Kings ability to effectively use these rhetorical devices, he was able to convey why he feels that his timing was appropriate by appealing to the emotions of the readers. Along with this, he makes clear that African Americans can no longer wait to protest these human rights violations.

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Use Of Pathos In Letter From Birmingham Jail. (2019, May 23). Retrieved May 21, 2022 , from
https://studydriver.com/pathos-in-letter-from-birmingham-jail/

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