Last Updated 28 Mar 2021

Reflection Essay on Letter from Birmingham Jail

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Increasing Importance From Birmingham “A Letter From A Birmingham Jail” written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is an amazing piece of writing that Dr. King wrote in response to a statement made by eight white Alabama clergymen. The letter conceded that social injustices were taking place but expressed the belief that the battle against racial segregation should be fought solely in the courts and not taken onto the streets. Dr. King was writing the letter to explain his reasoning on being in Birmingham and why it was not against the law that him and his people were protesting. Dr. King uses vivid imagery, aggressive diction, and repetition throughout his letter to powerfully build to the climax. Climax is a scheme that aids Kings argument in the letter by painting a picture for the reader, allowing the reader to feel the emotions of Dr. King though language, and also allowing the reader to pick up on the important issues throughout the entirety of the letter. Throughout the whole body of the letter lots of vivid imagery is used by King to build climax. This whole letter is an escalation until the final paragraphs when it is summed up and beings to take a calmer tone.

The reason being for the use of imagery is to paint a picture for the reader. An example of imagery in the letter would be when King says, “They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment”. In this statement, they, is referring to the people who are standing up to the whites and fighting for the equal rights for blacks. These people continue to find hope where it seems impossible to find. They keep trying to obtain equal rights even with constant oppression and criticism from the mountain of disappointment.

Again, this draws attention to this sentence by using strong imagery of two unalike things. By King painting a vivid picture for the reader and allowing them to see through his eyes and from his point of view, it makes his argument that much strong. King picks and chooses what to vividly describe in his letter and by only painting out what he wants you to see makes his argument that much stronger. By painting a picture, King can continue to build it into a climax point where the readers of this letter are seeing and feeling what King is trying to express.

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Aggressive diction is used flawlessly in the entirety of this paper to aid King in his argument. The diction that is carefully chosen is used to progress sentences. We can see that at the beginning of the letter, sentences are short and not as wordy. But, as King starts to become heated, we see sentences prolonged, starting to accelerate a strong rhythm, and become longer in key emotional passages. An example is “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. ” We see more aggressive diction is used in these emotional passages because the use of the aggressive diction not only lets us know how King is feeling, but when the diction becomes stronger it aids the development towards the climax King is trying to reach. All of this emotional, aggressive language King uses to express his feelings to the clergymen leads to a climax.

In each heated point, in the letter, King becomes more emotional with his language to try explain his point of view. In the example above, King is referring to how nothing King and his fellow believers do is okay in the eyes of the clergymen. Everything King does simply cannot be justified unless it is justified as illegal and violent. However, King and his people still have hope. They create whatever hope they can out of the “mountain of disappointment” of constantly being shot down. His sentences become longer and more aggressive as he builds the climax to get his point across to the clergymen.

Repetition is another writing element used by Dr. King in his letter to further progress his argument. Repetition is used to enhance the climax of the paper because as certain points become more important you start to see the idea repeated again and again. Eventually as the climax of the issue is reached, we see the idea that was being repeated start to subside. The repetition becomes almost like a foreshadowing method of the main point Dr. King wants you to realize. He is repeating certain ideas to make sure you retain them and become very familiar with them.

For example, “…ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. ” In this quote we see the word “Negro” repeated even where it may not be needed. This is to emphasize the point Dr. King is trying to make in his statement. Each time the word is placed into the sentences, describing the noun, it puts that much more emphasis on the word.

It allows the word to stand out from the rest. It also gives the language a sense of tension and emotion. It lends a hand in creating a climatic point each time the word is repeated again and again. The whole reason Dr. King is writing this letter is to convince the clergymen to hear his plead for equality and justice for all people alike. He is unjustly sitting in a jail because he was participating in nonviolent protesting. The reason he even has to be protesting at all is because no one will hear to cries of Dr. King and his fellow believers.

They just want equality but no one would give them the time of day to explain themselves as equals. So instead, Dr. King and others were arrested and forced to try and make their cries heard once more, this time from a jail cell. This letter appeals to many things that the clergymen can relate to and also displays King as an educated individual. The clergymen have no other choice other than to address the letter. Dr. King is very sophisocated in the way he designs this letter. Each part of this letter is chosen carefully to aid Dr. King in his plea to the clergymen that they will recognize blacks as equals.

Many different elements of writing are expressed throughout the letter to aid Dr. King in his argument. But among the many elements, vivid imagery, aggressive diction, and repetition helped him build up the climax of certain points in the letter. The climax helped him in his argument by creating emotion in the paper that not only the clergymen could relate to, but others who read the letter as well. The climax paint pictures for the reader, allows the reader to feel the emotions of Dr. King though language, and also allows the reader to pick up on the important issues throughout the entirety of the letter.

This essay was written by a fellow student. You can use it as an example when writing your own essay or use it as a source, but you need cite it.

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