Rhetorical Analysis of the I Have a Dream Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Rhetorical Analysis of the I Have a Dream Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Cheers echoed throughout Washington D.C. August 28, 1963 as Martin Luther King Jr. paved the path to freedom for those suffering from racial segregation. It was the day of the March on Washington, which promoted Civil Rights and economic equality for African Americans. In order to share his feelings and dreams with the rest of the nation, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his speech encouraging all to overcome racial segregation. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech was very effective due to the use of metaphors, repetition, historical and literary references, and poetic devices.
Metaphors
Metaphors found throughout the speech created images in the minds of those in the audience and helped make his points stronger. With the use of metaphors, Martin Luther King Jr. caught the attention of his audience and made the speech much more pleasing to hear. Using a phrase such as “flames of withering injustice” was more interesting than just saying “hell” (King, 1963, para 2). When speaking of the life of a Negro, he compared segregation to a manacle and discrimination to a chain. He claimed America did not find Negros to live up to their standards and stated that the Negros received a bad check marked “insufficient funds” (King, 1963, para 5). He then encouraged the audience to “cash the check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice” (King, 1963, para 5). When speaking of Mississippi, a past slave state, Martin Luther King Jr. referred to it as a desert state sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, and claimed that it would be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.


Repetition
Martin Luther King Jr. emphasized his points by using repetition. The...


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...ition and emotion brought listening ears to attention. Metaphors and other poetic devices made the speech interesting to hear and brought imagery into the minds of the audience. Historical and literary references provided legitimacy for the points Martin Luther King Jr. was trying to make. The use of Aristotle’s three appeals provided emotion, ethics, and logic to the speech. Martin Luther King Jr.’s use of these key tools created an effective speech that will be remembered for centuries.



References
Congress of Racial Equality. March on Washington. Retrieved from http://www.core-online.org/History/washington_march.htm
King, M.L. Jr. (1963, August 28). I have a dream- address at March on Washington. Retrieved from http://www.mlkonline.net/dream.html
Martin Luther King Online (Producer).http://www.mlkonline.net/video-i-have-a-dream-speech.html

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