Rhetorical Situation Analysis of Martin Luther King's Dream Speech

744 Words Apr 20th, 2012 3 Pages
On August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a 17-minute public speech to over 200,000 supporters of the Civil Rights Movement. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was a response to continued racial bias nearly 100 years after the end of slavery and a call to action, meant to unify the country in the fight to end segregation. King used his time at the historic event to urge Americans, of all races, to work together throughout the country to ensure equality for all citizens. Though King’s delivery of the speech is widely recognized as impactful because of his passionate sermon-like delivery, the context of the speech contains many rhetorical components. Those rhetorical efforts …show more content…
By using allusion to historical leaders and documents, he reminds the audience of the past and strengthens his argument the time for change was long overdue. Repeating the phrases “I have a dream”, “Now is the time”, “Let freedom ring” and “Free at last”, King used anaphora and repetition to bring the speech to a great climax and leave the audience completely energized. King also used parallelism to unify the movement’s effort into one group of equal parts by urging the audience to “Go back to” Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, as well as “the slums and ghettos of our Northern cities”. He also used parallelism to send a message of unification to all parts of the country by repeating the phrase “Let freedom ring” combined with names of many of our country’s mountain ranges, just as in the song “America” by Samuel Francis Smith (My Country! ‘Tis of Thee). Perhaps it was King’s use of metaphors that made the speech draw in the audience. He described the circumstances of racism and inequality with phrases descriptive of slavery including “flames of withering injustice”, “chains of discrimination” which connected the audience to their past while inspiring them to change their future.
One year after delivering “I Have a Dream”, King’s work and message of equality for all was recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize. Not only did the award recognize his work for civil rights, but it was sign of worldwide sentiment that
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