Analysis of "I Have a Dream" Speech

1857 Words May 19th, 2011 8 Pages
“I Have A Dream”

Martin Luther King Jr.

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech that electrified a nation. In Washington D.C, King delivered his speech on the steps of the Lincoln memorial and as his powerful voice echoed out across an audience of 200,000 people, echoes of the Gettysburg address could be heard as well as the Declaration of Independence and the Bible. It has been called “masterfully delivered and improvised sermon, bursting with biblical language and imagery.”The passionate speech is filled with rhetorical devices that help ground into earth King's demands of racial equality and outcries of social injustice.

The second paragraph of the speech starts with “Five score years ago”, an allusion to Abraham
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The fourth “paragraph” of the speech ends with an example of anaphora. A short hopeful phrase of “now is the time” is repeated four times back to back to back to back in the last four lines of the paragraph. These rhetorical devices have a powerful impact and add a decisive, hopeful feel. Martin Luther King Jr. in this conclusion also makes another metaphor with saying racial injustice is “quick sands” and brotherhood is a “solid rock.” These metaphors also link the intangible with the tangible creating a contrast. Apples and bananas are different but the difference of good and bad is harder to see. When attached to real life objects the visualization is made.

The rest of the speech contains several more independent metaphors, all used to support Martin Luther King Jr.'s points. “The whirlwinds of revolt will shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges”; making a metaphor of revolt to a whirlwind and justice to a bright day. Yet again, metaphors are used to represent abstract ideas with concrete things to create a contrast. In another place it is seen that storm are like persecution and winds like police brutality. Tying in the earlier metaphor to imprisonment, this usage of a rhetorical device shows the vicious circle Negroes were living with. At some point it becomes repetitious all of the metaphors of justice to everything
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