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I Have Dream Analysis

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I have a dream – rhetorical analysis

Martin Luther King’s speech ”I have a dream” is about his dream of equality between the white and the black people.

Slavery had been going on for several hundred years, and even a hundred years after slavery was outlawed, the black people still hadn’t got the same equal rights as the white people had.

The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence promised that both black men and white men would get equal rights, and that’s where America has failed at this point, because the black people don’t have these rights. In Martin Luther King’s and in the most black people’s eyes this isn’t fair, and there is a big need of justice.  Martin Luther King isn’t looking for revenge and he doesn’t want to feel hatred for the white people’s acts, he is just looking for freedom for the colored people. Martin Luther King believes that it is very important that they all stand together and that they won’t stop before they get justice.

He has a dream and a vision of freedom and equality, that will make his and everyone else’s children grow up in a world where everyone has equal rights.

He fought for the black people’s rights, but he knew that he couldn’t do it alone, therefore he needed everybody to understand the seriousness of what was happening, and that’s why he stood up for the black people as an orator. The message of the speech was mostly to get people to see how serious this was, and that they needed to join the battle for civil rights. Martin Luther King basically did what was needed at the time, to create peace and equality between all races.

He was the voice of many of the colored people but he also spoke to them, because they could relate and because he needed them to start doing something about the racism and segregation. He actually spoke to all of America’s people, he wanted everyone to see the importance of equality.

Martin Luther King has bias as an orator. He doesn’t completely choose one group’s side because he is fighting for equal rights for everyone and that includes both the white and the black people, but the speech is dealing with the fight for the black people’s rights, and therefore it will come them and Martin Luther King to good.

The purpose of a speech is often to convince the receiver on a stance and convey a message. That is also what Martin Luther King is doing, and he is doing that by using different types of rhetorical techniques.

He is using the three forms of appeal, logos, pathos and ethos. Martin Luther King in himself has ethos. He is a very known black activist in the fight for black people’s rights. Before his speech “I have dream”, he got known for using his nonviolent methods, among other things he led the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, which is one of the bigger events in the history of civil rights.

A thing to back up the ethos is his use of logos, which he does by referring to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence “…This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”” (p.1 ll. 15-17). A 100 years before, Abraham Lincoln also held a very known speech, where he also talked about equality and the Declaration of Independence, and that makes Martin Luther King even more reliable, because Abraham Lincoln was the president that abolished slavery.  

He is awakening some feelings at the receiver of the speech and therefore he is using pathos. He is among other things mentioning slavery and how the black people, though slavery has been outlawed, still aren’t free “But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination….” (p. 1 ll. 7-8). Another example of Martin Luther King using pathos is when he mentions his own and everyone else’s children “We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” “ (p.2 ll. 37-38).



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