Letter From Birmingham Jail Analysis

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With two great writers, come two great pieces; “On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience”, by Henry David Thoreau, and Letter From Birmingham Jail, by Martin Luther King, Jr., both effectively explaining their opinions on justice. Though King’s letter was written almost 100 years later than Thoreau’s lecture, they are similar in many ways. While Thoreau deals with justice as it relates to government, King deals with justice as “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (262; par. 4). With both essays giving a complete argument towards justice, some may ask which one is more effective? Effective, in this case, is which piece impacted the audience more. After analysing both pieces, King's letter is more effective than Thoreau's lecture, considering that Thoreau’s lecture uses logos and metaphors, while King’s letter uses pathos and anaphoras. Both pieces, trying to persuade their audiences, use one of Aristotle’s three rhetorical appeals. Thoreau uses logos, or the appeal to logic, to convey his message about justice. It is important for Thoreau to use this logic throughout his lecture to make his piece effective. On page 945, paragraph 16, Thoreau states, “Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them…show more content…
The anaphoras that King uses are much more effective at impacting the reader than Thoreau’s use of metaphors, because the anaphoras that King's uses emphasize his main points. Though Thoreau’s use of metaphors are effective at supporting his message, they do not emphasize his main points like King’s anaphoras do. Thoreau’s metaphors are powerful at making his audience compare two things, for a better understanding, but do not make his main points stand out. Clearly, King’s use of anaphoras are more effective at impacting the reader than Thoreau’s use of
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