“In Civil Disobedience”, Henry David Thoreau, stresses on the true importance of the individual and his power to alter governmental injustices. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, places strong emphasis on direct action to impose reform, while promoting the equalization of rights for all individuals. Both authors incorporate strong rhetorical strategies that appeal to the lectors, such as ethos and pathos. However, King’s piece exalts effectively due to the genuine modesty he portrays, a quality Thoreau lacks provoking a reverse reaction than the one desired. .
The ability to strike an individual with emotion is the ability to detect that debile section of the human and touch the true depths of their natural sentiments. King utilizes emotion in a tremendous way by quoting the Bible and mentioning Christ’s doings. He takes in consideration that the components of his audience are clergymen that assumingly have a profound study of the Bible and intends to persuade them with this knowledge tactically. When he incorporates passages of the Bible, he compares them to actions he has or will act upon in good faith: “Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid”. Here King compares his predicating of freedom with that of the Apostle Paul’s of the gospel. King later uses a different form of emotional appeal when he speaks of his personal encounters with racism, quoting his five year old son with an ingenuous question: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”. With statements such as these, King places the reader in a small area of his life, stating events he has lived and sensed, enabling the piece to penetrate further within its lectors. .
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Thoreau possesses a very dry emotional appeal in his piece because of his lack of modesty, that almost makes his statements and remarks seem despotic. However, the emotional appeal, although found vaguely within his writing and somewhat connected to ethical appeal, is existent within the piece: “The best thing a man can do for his culture when he is rich is to endeavor to carry out those schemes which he entertained when he was poor.