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Mlk Analysis Dream Speech

Essay by 24  •  January 2, 2011  •  1,055 Words (5 Pages)  •  976 Views

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Martin Luther King's speech "I Have a Dream" delivered on August 28, 1963 is said to be the greatest demonstration of America's history. Dr. King intended to appeal to both black and white audiences through his inspirational speech. Written in a persuasive, stylistic manner, he used strong diction to call for a change in the nation, doing so without violence. He successfully combined the use of repetition, word choice and figurative language in his speech to connect to his audience and set the emotional tone of the harsh segregations facing African-Americans of the time.

Throughout his speech, King uses repetition to leave a powerful, lasting impact on his audience. The use of repetition gives his speech a rhythmic quality and sets a convincing tone. In his second paragraph, King repeats three times, "one hundred years later." He is declaring to his audience the importance of the need for the country to change, because it has been a long time passed since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and blacks are still being segregated. In the fourth paragraph, "now is the time," was repeated four times. Here King emphasizes the immediate action of his audience. He uses this phrase to encourage the blacks to rise up and act with urgency. The most notable quote, "I have a dream," was repeated a staggering eight times, adding an effective rhythmic fashion that organized his ideas. He goes on to make use of parallelism and repetition as he repeats his spirited phrase, "I have a dream," while adding the different clauses of his dream. Doing this he engages his audience's attention while at the same time signaling to them that all his dreams are equally important. To conclude his speech, King repeats "let freedom ring," declaring to his audience to remember that he is fighting for the country to be equal as a whole:

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Obviously, Dr. King wants to make the point that if America is going to be the great country it's known to be, then all men in every state, from the east to the west needs to be given the equal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, despite the color of their skin.

Through the use of metaphors, King arouses emotion in his audience and gives them the feeling of hope. To convey the value and perception of his ideas, he says, "Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check." Using "bad check" as a metaphor he is showing economic injustice, and is describing the difference between the rights guaranteed by the Constitution compared to the current political and social realities. Most people can relate to the negativity and burden of a bad check. In the next paragraph, King follows through and concentrates on gaining economic justice when he says, "cashing the check." Adding to this he also says, "This nation will rise up," implying a threat to the white people that this is the start of a new revolution. King states, "Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today [...]." The shadow symbolizes the darkness the blacks are facing, even after the signing of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. He then continues to say "the great beacon light of hope," meaning the light of the day when they collectively reach complete equality. King uses many metaphors throughout his speech portraying the realities of the time as darkness and the future as being hopeful and bright.

King uses similes to compare

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