Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Letter from Birmingham Jail (ethos)

Salvador Lopez 
Professor Baer
English 5B
Letter From Birmingham Jail (ethos)
The writing, “The Letter From Birmingham Jail ” by Martin Luther King Jr. sets a strong and straightforward tone from the very beginning with powerful diction to explain himself in a well mannered way. Nevertheless, it is a response letter he wrote while he was imprisoned for defying the law in Birmingham. The letter was to his eight “fellow clergymen” as King mentions, who wrote an open letter statement criticizing his actions in Birmingham. As a result of the criticisms that crossed his path, King was definitely not flattered and felt the urge to explain his actions and explain why it was not erroneous for him to do. Thus, he decides to automatically respond and give an explanation in his letter to every criticism his clergymen wrote about him. This letter that King wrote has various examples of ethos. 
As King mentions in his speech, “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow 
we stand today, signed the emancipation proclamation.”His use of ethos towards Lincoln was 
influential because Lincoln was an excellent president who empowered several Americans throughout 
the civil war. Later, he earned respect and trust from America and created a new form of freedom. In 
other words, King is just referring back to Lincoln and his stance on civil rights. Here, he is providing 
a powerful ethos appeal and is building credibility with his audience who have gathered on the day of 
March on Washington.
Furthermore, Martin Luther King Jr. states, " We have some eighty-five affiliate organizations all across the South, one being the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights." In making this comment, Dr. King Jr. urges the clergy men to believe that there is more organizations other than the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Dr. King Jr. refers back to his other organization to inform the clergy men that they want to spread equality throughout the country. In order to spread equality, the segregated city of Birmingham has to realize segregation is unfair and consider desegregating. 

1 comment:

  1. Salvador,

    This is actually an example of an appeal to logos:

    Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. himself writes, "One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust." In other words, Dr. King Jr. believes that some laws are unjust due to their unfairness or inequality. I agree that some people have a right to morally but responsibly disobey unjust laws if they do not equalize. Ethos plays into factor, since his character answered that their is two types of laws unjust and just. He strongly believes there is two types of laws since one advocates breaking and then obeying such laws.

    However, for the most part you seem to have the right idea of ethos. Much of his ethos comes from his language choices and the tone they set (ie. what kind of man we feel is speaking through the Letter), and his ethos does overlap with that of the organizations and groups with which he is affiliated.

    In revising, focus on specific places where we see King trying to establish his ethos (credibility), and how/why these instances would make him credible in the eyes of his intended audience.