Figures Of Speech : ' I Have A Dream '

2022 Words9 Pages
Andrew Fenn
Date Submitted: 10/8/2014
COM 322 – Dr. Marcel
Figures of Speech in “I Have a Dream”

On August 28th, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his magnum opus “I Have a Dream” speech to a crowd of over 250,000 civil rights activists in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Even though the monologue clocks in at just over fifteen minutes in length, Dr. King’s words have been cemented as the catalyst for civil rights reform through his strategic implementation of rhetorical devices. Making a monumental impact in such a short amount of time requires careful selection of words and phrases that will enforce his thesis while remaining concise. While King captures his audience and empowers them through a combination of ethos, logos and pathos, this paper will focus on five fundamental figures of speech he implements throughout which ultimately give his rhetoric a more influential, enduring effect.
The first literary device that Dr. King employs in his speech is allusion. Allusion refers to a “figurative or symbolic reference”, and he utilizes this device in the second sentence of his delivery. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln dictated the Gettysburg Address in the wake of the American Civil War. His words conveyed the message presented in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence written “four score and seven years ago”, which states that “all men are created equal”. King channels this notion of political stagnancy in his speech by opening with “Five score years
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