Ethos Pathos Logos in Letter from Birmingham Jail

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for Letter from Birmingham Jail


Letter from a Birmingham Jail - Rhetorical Strategies

Example



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Activity Overview


In high school, students start to develop formal writing skills, creating essays and arguments that are well-thought-out, and syntactically varied. Students also need to effectively use persuasive writing strategies to defend a claim or point of view.

A key to strong persuasive writing the ability to dissect and validate, or debunk, other arguments. This requires a basic working knowledge of rhetoric. A great way to enhance students' understanding of effective arguments is to teach the Aristotelian concepts of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Students can then identify and analyze the effectiveness of these strategies in a work of literature, a speech, or a letter.

Having students create storyboards that show examples of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos is a great way to introduce and teach basic rhetoric in the classroom! Then, have them create a storyboard with 2-3 examples of each of the following types of rhetorical appeals from “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”


Examples of Rhetorical Strategies in “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

Ethos/Expertise

“I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights.”


Pathos/Appeal to Emotion

“In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise?”


Logos/Logic

“Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.”



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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows examples of ethos, pathos, and logos from the text.


  1. Identify one example for each rhetorical strategy: ethos, pathos, and logos.
  2. Type the example into the description box under the cell.
  3. Illustrate the example using any combination of scenes, characters, and items.
Ethos Pathos Logos Template

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