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An analysis of I Have a Dream

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 dramatically enforces the central message. The analysis also focuses on the way in which the speech is constructed to appeal to the audience's sense of morality and justice and to allay any preconceptions or fears about radical black empowerment. The first paragraph encapsulates the intention of the speech, namely that while the Proclamation of Emancipation is a historical fact it is still not yet a fact in the daily lives of the Negro people. The immediate intention is to emphasize the legitimacy of what is to follow and to refute preconceptions relating to these demands. The sense of justice and legitimacy is emphasized by the use of historical/Biblical terminology and style to emphasize the historical ...

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An analysis of I Have a Dream. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 00:48, July 01, 2015, from