Satyagraha – Letter from Birmingham Jail Essay

Mohandas Gandhi’s, “Satyagraha,” and Martin Luther King Jr.’s, “Letter from Birmingham Prison,” each argue for non-violent civil disobedience. Nevertheless, each author uses various rhetorical appeals, such as principles, to establish their trustworthiness. In paragraph ten of King’s statement he asks rhetorical concerns the Clergymen might have. “You might well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches etc? Isn’t settlement a much better path”(King 2)? Gandhi also does a great job of breaking down the intricacy of his argument by separating his “new terms” and specifying them one by one.

With these 2 elements in mind the authors set out their framework for their argument and presented it in their own way with their own style.

In Gandhi’s Satyagraha we see a completely different framework for his argument. Gandhi produces values in a smart way by establishing a “discussion” in his work. The “reader” used concerns and challenges to Gandhi. Gandhi then took the role of the “editor” and reacted point by point in a philosophical exposition of his concepts.

“Reader: Is there any historic evidence as to the success of what you have called soul-force or truth-force? Editor: The poet Tulsidas has said … This appears to be a scientific truth”(Gandhi 208). In establishing this discussion Gandhi is avoiding a counter argument, which is essential when developing a “new language.” It stops the reader from questioning Gandhi’s argument and puts them in consult no defense therefore even more building his credibility. Like King, Gandhi greatly affects the thought process of his audience. He not only avoids the reader from questioning his statement however he also doesn’t allow them to consider if it is incorrect or not. He establishes his principles so well that his audience doesn’t believe there is any legitimate counter argument.

Like Gandhi, King asks three rhetorical questions to the Clergymen. “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches etc? Isn’t settlement a much better path”(King 2)? With this statement King allows some indirect input from the Clergymen. He then goes on to respond to the questions with legitimacy and reason. King’s questions force the Clergymen to consider how they would answer them. However when King himself informs them the responses, it forces them to think in a different way. It forces them to think like King. Throughout the entire letter King does such an amazing task of allowing his audience to think for themselves however then provides an alternative method of thought. In doing this King is hoping that the spark of an alternative idea would in turn get the readers to question whether or not their actions are best or wrong. Martin Luther King Jr. establishes values by utilizing his knowledge of the Bible and referencing it to his main audience, the Clergymen. “… and simply as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I”(King 1).

King could not have a better audience to write to than the Clergymen because he can support all of his statements with references to the Bible that they also can associate with. He can utilize his knowledge to affect the thinking of these Clergymen and validate his actions. King basically uses Scriptural referrals as a sensible “shame on you” towards the Clergymen. He relates himself to Paul, a highly related to apostle, who had a comparable state of mind as King. In doing this King was making himself appear like the much better person because he was really doing something for great and following examples of past Scriptural leaders. If King might break down the patterned thinking about not simply the Clergymen, but also all of the oblivious individuals, he would not just get his message across however it would likewise be accepted. Gandhi’s a lot of outstanding aspect is his ability to completely comprehend his audience. In his extreme understanding of his reader, Gandhi can tailor his argument so that it will make a lot sense that the reader won’t have the ability to question it.

In Satyagraha he develops new terms that nobody has heard previously. Satyagraha, Passive Resistance, Civil Disobedience, and Non-co-operation are the new terms he states in his work. These terms are very complicated for the reader to understand so Gandhi breaks them down and specifies them one by one. “Satyagraha is actually holding on to Fact and it indicates, therefore, Truth-force”(Gandhi 207). He offers examples and states the significance of these new words in such a basic way. What Gandhi is actually doing is setting up the readers believed procedure to become more open and accepting to his argument. Once they comprehend the core basis of his argument it ends up being a lot easier for them to alter their way of thinking.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi’s higher level of believing and downplaying of their audience permits them to structure their argument in the most compelling way possible. They have a method of shaping the readers minds and molding it to the requirements of their argument that goes beyond many of the influential leaders of the day. They establish their trustworthiness in such a powerful manner in which the reader can not assist but pay attention to what they are representing in their argument. King and Gandhi’s tactics for validating their arguments are amazingly influential and that is why they were such extremely concerned leaders. They had the power to manipulate individuals’s minds to allow them to not believe in such a patterned way. They supplied alternatives to the traditional way of idea.

Functions Cited

Gandhi, Mohandas. “Satyagraha.” Writing About the World. Navajivan Trust. 206-211.

King Jr., Martin Luther. “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” A World of Ideas. Ed. Joan Daves. Author’s Home LLC, 1963. 172-189.