Home » Henry David Thoreau in “Civil Disobedience” and Martin Luther King in “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

Henry David Thoreau in “Civil Disobedience” and Martin Luther King in “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King, in “Civil Disobedience” and “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” respectively, both conjure a definitive argument on the rights of insubordination during specified epochs of societal injustice. Thoreau, in his enduring contemplation of life and its purpose, insightfully analyzes the conflicting relationship between the government and the people it governs.

He considerately evokes the notion that the majority of people are restrained by the government and society from making decisions with consideration of their conscience and that people need to overcome the reign of the government to realize their own ethics and morals. King, in accordance, eloquently and passionately contends the injustice presented in the unfair treatment of and the discriminatory attitude towards Blacks. Even though, Thoreau successfully accentuates his main concerns in his argument, his effectiveness in persuasionappeals, conclusion, and practical applicationpales in comparison to that of King’s.

In persuasive essays, appeals represent significant, rhetorical factors that rate the effectiveness of impact. Although Thoreau applies ethos, logos, and pathos in his essay, his writing lacks able organization, which affects the presentation and efficiency of his appeals. They lose their influence amidst Thoreau’s philosophical ranting. King, on the other hand, consistently maintains an overall, patient tone that unambiguously communicates his case. He skillfully utilizes the potent expressions of ethos, logos, and pathos to clearly interpret his message and persuade his readers.

Relating to several biblical allusions like Apostle Paul and Jesus Christ, he sensuously establishes credible authenticity and significance to his motives of civil disobedience against unjust laws; they assist in accentuating the justice within his “unjustified” actions. King also provokes compelling emotional tides of sympathy and compassion to overcome his readers when he provides sorrow-filled descriptions of the torments Blacks have to go through everyday. Furthermore, his usage of logic in identifying equality as a natural right of all men firmly defends his reasons on sanctioning desegregation.

Leaving no loopholes behind his reasoning or ambiguity in his purpose, King competently succeeds in proficiently perpetuating his views on injustice and civil disobedience. In addition to appeals, each writer’s conclusion causes different reactions that relate to the effectiveness of their persuasion. While Thoreau develops a pessimistic view of society and its corrupt fabrications, King builds on a more optimistic view of the future and how society should reform to a better state of equality.

Thoreau temporarily expresses hopefulness in his description of a utopian society; however, at the end, he concludes with a pessimistic foresight of the future, stating “A state which bore this kind of fruitwhich also I have imagined, but not yet anywhere seen. ” His negative attitude towards future hope ironically works against his description of achieving a utopian society, for, without hope, there is neither any reason nor willpower to attempt the seemingly impossible.

King evidently proposes his expectant hope for the future in his conclusion: “I hope this letter finds you strong in faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of youLet us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away” His hopefulness further convinces the reader of the possibility of equal rights for all; that, it is not impossible to achieve. Emotionally, hope represents a strong fortification that can become a potent aide in accomplishing even the impossible.

Even though Thoreau’s cynical view witlessly rejects hope for his utopian populace, it suits the contemptuous tone of his writing in which he bluntly distinguishes several problems within society. Also, the practical applications of the major ideas within the two essays can influence their persuasiveness. Thoreau’s philosophical text automatically shuns practicality when he argues for a utopian society, where everyone can achieve pure individualism without the limiting threat of an overpowering government and majority.

In practical senses, in order to live in a mutual society, one has to have a governing hub to overlook insignificant factors and make decisions for the good of the majority because, it is impossible to fulfill every single wish when several of them contradict one another. Additionally, even though it remains impossible to achieve a utopian society, it is not practical to give up all hope since society always attempts to advance towards perfection, as evident in every group of populace. King, in contrast, establishes his argument chiefly on practicality.

It remains practical for King to desire equality for all Blacks; equality represents a natural privilege applicable to all, as implied in the U. S. Constitution. The achievement of equality to all would become one of the advancements in society towards perfection. The unmistakable practicality that King’s text possesses further strengthens the reasoning and credibility behind his argument. Through more effectual usage in appeals, conclusion, and practical application, Martin Luther King in “Letter from Birmingham Jail” successfully presents a better persuasive essay than Henry David Thoreau in “Civil Disobedience. “

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