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Is Martin Luther King a Better Writer than Henry David Thoreau?

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Introduction

Is Martin Luther King a Better Writer than Henry David Thoreau? Both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Henry David Thoreau were great, eloquent writers. If a poll was conducted, people would most likely recognize the name Martin Luther King than Henry David Thoreau because of the famous "I Have a Dream" speech. This speech shot King's fame up even higher than it already was, but it is also safe to say that King would not have been the writer he was had it not been for Thoreau. Thoreau's ideas aided in forming King's and, therefore, helped King become a better writer; Thoreau's famous essay, "Civil Disobedience," featured ideas that King used in his speeches and protests over one hundred years later. King's writing abilities were reflected well in the "Letter from Birmingham Jail", written in 1963 after King was jailed for a non-violent protest in Birmingham, Alabama. Through the use of ethos, logos, and pathos, Thoreau and King present an argument which suggests societal injustice developed as a result of an unjust government acting ...read more.

Middle

His appeal was very logical and he made great points in his argument. His writing style incorporated pathos as well, which is a personal appeal. Thoreau uses emotion to express his ideas at the beginning of the essay when he continually rebukes the American government as a just government. Martin Luther King wrote the "Letter from Birmingham Jail" in April 1963 after being jailed for a non-violent protest in Alabama, which is an act of civil disobedience. King wrote in his letter to the clergymen saying "one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws" (King). It is obvious that one of the writers that helped shape King's ideas was Thoreau. King also writes "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" (King). He is saying that if the state of Alabama allows all of the injustices, then it is OK for the rest of the world to do so. Martin Luther King was a king of civil disobedience. ...read more.

Conclusion

Thoreau wrote about them, but King put them into action. Thoreau's style of writing, which included large words and repetition, was an effective form of writing but it was not as good as King's, which appealed to a person's personal beliefs. Although King came one hundred years after Thoreau, the same message was still there. In Thoreau's times, he was arguing in favor of the destruction of slavery and injustice. King was arguing in favor of rights for all and the destruction of injustices, which go hand-in-hand. King would have been a great writer anyway, even if Thoreau had not influenced him. Ultimately, Thoreau and King were two men from different backgrounds and different times that believed in the same message, which was that reduced government power and increased power to the people is most beneficial to society. They both stress this in their papers, written in such great, persuasive detail. The fact that Thoreau influenced King's ideas, however, makes King's writing abilities look so much better. In a few ways, it is as if King is Thoreau's heir, building up on what Thoreau would have wanted the future to look like. ...read more.

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