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"Letter From A Birmingham Jail", By Martin Luther King And Henry David Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience."

786 words - 4 pages

"Letter From a Birmingham Jail" by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Henry David Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" both display their authors' views on justice in their respective periods of time. King believes that one has the right to break a law that is morally unjust. Thoreau has a rather radical approach to the subject in that he believes when a government becomes unjust, it is the right and duty of the people to refuse participation in it. He also makes it clear that a major weakness in the democratic government is that its power comes from the majority because they are the strongest, not because they hold the most legitimate viewpoint. Both essays argue for justice in an unjust world using ...view middle of the document...

They are not nearly as effective as King's. One interesting implement of pathos is Thoreau's description of a marine, or in his words, a man made by the "black arts" of the government, "moveable forts." The soldiers march "in admirable order over hill and dale to wars, against their wills." While this is a fine comparison of a soldier, it is not effective to his argument. The allusion to the Apostle Paul in King's essay is positive and constructive while the implication of death in Thoreau's comparison is dark and depressing. King is clearly more persuasive than Thoreau under the pathos category.Both writers attempt to reach out to their readers with the use of another persuasive technique, logical appeal, or logos. Once again, King's writing appeals more to the reader. He uses many comparisons to reinforce and qualify his actions. Thoreau uses many comparisons as well, but they are vague and irrelevant to his thesis. Perhaps the most thought provoking comparison that King uses is one in which he argues the true meaning of legal and illegal activities. He does this by alluding to Hitler's legal activities in Germany and the illegal struggle of the Hungarian freedom fighters. With that simple statement, King causes the...

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