“I Have a Dream” and the Levels of the Mind
Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech is, in my opinion, the greatest speech in American history. Thousands upon thousands of people marched on Washington and gathered around the Lincoln Memorial to hear this speech. It brought civil rights into the forefront of the political agenda and supported the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The speech itself follows a fairly specific pattern regarding the levels of the mind, as described in Northrop Frye’s “The Motive For Metaphor”: At the level of ordinary consciousness the individual man is the centre of everything, surrounded on all sides by what he isn’t. At the level of practical sense, or civilization, there’s…show more content… We must not allow or creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. […] [White people] have to come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. (King, Dream)
King knows what he wants and he knows that these two worlds, the Negro (the shipwreck) and the white people (the other inhabitants of the island) are coming together, and need to come together. The Negro wants to feel at home.
Finally King envisions a world that treats whites and blacks equally, which at the time was a radical idea. But not impossible: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of it’s creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. […] I have a dream today. (King, Dream)
King effectively uses the third level of the mind in imagination. To even have an idea like that was never considered in that time period.
King was a captivating speaker and was mentioned as one of the greatest American orator amongst the likes of Roosevelt and Lincoln. It was his effective use of metaphor and levels of the mind that captivated his audience and become the face of