In Civil Disobedience Essay, 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, Kings 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 Christs 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 Pauls 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. 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. Thoreau here radiates emotion while connecting morality; he is inviting the audience to be humble and not allow the power of ambition consume and morph that simple way of life.
Later on, he supports and advances his thought with a Biblical quotation: Render therefore to Caesar that which is Caesars, and to God those things which are Gods, appealing once again to emotion through the word of the Lord, that is universally known to be sagacious. Further along in the piece, the writer speaks of this experience in jail with a prisoner: I pumped my fellow-prisoner as dry as I could for fear I should never see him again. Pity can be sensed in this remark, but is still not completely authentic to appeal in its entirety to the reader. Morals, beliefs, and values are learned qualities humans possess, and serve as the catalysts of the conscience. Humans act upon accordingly to what the conscience dictates, idealistically speaking, and the conscience acts upon that individuals perception of right and wrong.
King combines this effectively and wisely inserts it in the piece, thus appealing to his selected audience in the ethical aspect: One who breaks the unjust law must do so openly, lovingly and with a willingness to accept the penalty. Here King approaches his audience in a humble manner stating that one should hold himself responsible for his actions, leading the audience onto sensing the conspicuous honesty in his words, provoking not only a great appeal but a desire to continue acknowledging his words. Then we have Thoreau with his wide variety of ethics and morals, that although are appealing to a certain extent, contain a slightly pretentious feel, radiating ambiguity in his approach to appeal. A man has not everything to do, but something; and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary that he should do something wrong. The meaning of this statement is in itself positive, but his aggravated attitude is lucid.
If he would appear before his audience with a distinct attitude of positivism and humbleness; with actual solutions to the argued .