Letter to Birmingham Rhetorical Analysis

Rhetorical Analysis
In the excerpt of “Letter from Birmingham Jail” Martin Luther King expresses his impatience toward racial equality. He begins by saying, “We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our Constitutional and God Given Rights.” He believes that African Americans are moving at a slow pace towards getting the treatment they deserve. By using anaphoras and allusions, Martin Luther king tries to justify the breaking of unjust laws.
An anaphora is the repetition of words at the beginning of successive sentences or clauses. In the quote, “When you have seen hate…When you have seen the vast majority…When you suddenly find…,” Martin Luther King uses an anaphora by repeating the word “when you” at the beginning of each clause. He does this to create a variety of situations to which African American people can relate. He uses ethos, emotional appeal, with this quote by evoking emotions. He makes you feel empathetic towards people who have to go through these situations every day. You feel bad for the person who gets beaten up by the police. You feel bad for the person with small children who just don’t understand. These everyday situations led up to African American people breaking unjust laws.
An allusion is a reference to a well known person, place, or thing. Dr. King uses two allusions in this excerpt of his letter. In the quote, “I would agree with Saint Augustine that ‘An unjust law is no law at all.’” He believes that Saint Augustine’s belief that there should be no laws that are unjust is correct. He also quotes Saint Thomas Aquinas who said, “An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law.” Martin Luther King als identifies with this definition of an unjust law. Segregation therefore, according to Dr. King, is an unjust law that deserves to be broken because it violates eternal and natural law. He quotes these two men to create logical appeal, or logos. He gives quotes and facts to appeal to a...