Satyagraha - Letter from Birmingham Jail a comparison between Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr.

Essay by hoover88College, Undergraduate March 2007

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Mohandas Gandhi's, "Satyagraha," and Martin Luther King Jr.'s, "Letter from Birmingham Jail," each argue for non-violent civil disobedience. However, each author uses different rhetorical appeals, such as ethos, to establish their credibility. In paragraph ten of King's statement he asks rhetorical questions the Clergymen might have. "You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path"(King 2)? Gandhi also does a great job of breaking down the complexity of his argument by separating his "new terms" and defining them one by one. With these two aspects 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 totally different framework for his argument. Gandhi creates ethos in an intelligent way by setting up a "dialogue" in his work. The "reader" offered questions and challenges to Gandhi.

Gandhi then took the role of the "editor" and responded point by point in a philosophical exposition of his ideas. "Reader: Is there any historical 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 setting up this dialogue Gandhi is preventing a counter argument, which is vital when creating a "new language." It stops the reader from questioning Gandhi's argument and puts them in check with no rebuttal thus further building his credibility. Like King, Gandhi greatly influences the thought process of his audience. He not only prevents the reader from questioning his statement but he also doesn't allow them to think about if it is wrong or not. He establishes his ethos so well that his audience doesn't think there is any legitimate...