Essay 1 Rhetorical Analysis
“Argument is not verbal combat, but a means to cooperate with others in finding and testing good solutions to tough problems. Bad arguments can divide us, but good ones strengthen the fabric of our communities—civic, academic, professional—by helping us justify not only what we think and do, but why others might have good reason to do the same. […] [O]ur arguments […] succeed if they help us explain why we and others differ, in a way that creates mutual understanding and respect” (Williams and Colomb 3).
Arguments are made up of claims, reasons, evidence, rhetorical appeals, warrants, costs, acknowledgments, and qualifications. All of these elements are at work in any argument that is effective. In Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” one of the most important arguments in American history is made: non-violent action against injustice is necessary. King’s powerful words and shrewd reasoning set a new precedence in race relations and between the dominant culture and the disenfranchised. With the amount of injustice King and others experienced, King could have easily lost control of his argument. However, with wisdom, compassion, and determination, he crafted an argument that made all the difference.
PROMPT: In your essay, analyze King’s argument in “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Based on your readings thus far, what strategies are at work in this letter? Going beyond merely identifying them, how and why are his strategies so relevant and significant?
In responding to the prompt, please adhere to the following requirements:
Craft a thesis in a thoughtful introduction, organize coherent, unified body paragraphs, conclude with reflection on the overall significance of the topic.
Demonstrate a solid understanding of argument, based on your readings for the class thus far.
Use specific textual support as evidence of your claims.
Any quotes or paraphrases MUST be cited according to MLA standards.
Include a Works Cited page. Be sure to include not only the textbook selections but also any additional research you might do, though research is not required in this first essay.
Format essay according to MLA standards.
This essay should be at least three and no more than four pages in length.
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