An analysis of I Have a Dream

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This famous speech by Martin Luther King, Jr, in 1963 is an example of structured and impassioned rhetoric that is also carefully designed to elicit a specific response and to appeal to a wide ranging audience. The use of language and stylistic devices in the speech serve to enforce the central massage, which is repeated and built on throughout in different contexts. The central thrust of the speech lies in the demand for freedom and equality for African Americans or the ‘Negro' population. This is a carefully structured and controlled argument that begins with the necessity to rectify the injustices of the past and then, logically and emotionally, builds on the legitimacy of this demand. This is enforced by a veiled threat that the demand for equality is not to be taken lightly; which in turn is ameliorated by a reassurance that the speech is not a call to irresponsible actions. Lastly, the speech emphasizes that the issue of freedom and basic human rights for the Negro is related to the freedom of all in a harmonious and united society. Throughout the speech the use of language is concise and controlled and aimed at evoking specific responses. I will focus on the use of metaphor that dramatical Continue...


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And "Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood". The symbolism of aquicksands' also plays on the suggested threat of what might happen if the representations of the black man are ignored. "But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. The thrust of the second half of the speech is one of reconciliation and a hope for the future. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. The entire speech succeeds because it is logically constructed and also because it has the emotional impetus to appeal to various levels in the audience. For example the reiteration of a" "We can never be satisfied", "We will not be satisfied". Metaphor is beautifully used to describe the vision or "dream" that King wanted to convey. The sense of justice and legitimacy is emphasized by the use of historicalBiblical terminology and style to emphasize the historical relevance of the speech a" for example, the use of the phrase "Five score years ago". "It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity". This metaphor is effective in that it is very accessible and reinforces the central point easily. The speaker reinforces this aspect through a telling and effective metaphor; namely, the use of money and the "check" of historical legitimacy that has not been honored. Even more importantly, on an emotional level, the words are intended to awaken an awareness of the injustice of the present situation. Note how the acheck' metaphor is seamlessly extended to encompass his purpose. This also serves to allay fears of black encroachment on power and privilege and rather suggests sharing and working towards a common goal.

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