An Analysis of the Literary and Rhetorical Device in I Have a Dream, a Speech by Martin Luther King Jr.

The “I Have a Dream Speech” provided by Martin Luther King in 1963 is perhaps among the most well acknowledged and applauded speeches within American history for not just its innovative messages however also in the way which the speech itself was crafted. What literary and rhetorical gadget does King most efficiently make use of within this speech that enables him to communicate his messages of a call to justice in relation to time?

The idea of a speech is to insight revelation, to inspire the audience, and to expand minds through the passionate linking power of the human voice. The “I have a Dream” speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C is the epitome of all of those aspects, and is notoriously remarkable not just from the words themselves, however likewise the method which King manages to tie the words together to create a deeper meaning. In the development of his words, King finest utilizes the rhetorical gadget of repeating, both actually and conceptually, to produce a complete message of a call to action in today to fight the oppressions that have actually existed since the long-ago past. The repetition is used on just the lines that King intended to emphasize the most, and it is within these passages in which King’s enthusiasms reside.

The first usage of clear repeating that King carries out within his speech is making use of “one a century later on …” in order to paint a picture 3 times in a row of the bleak and unacceptable conditions of black citizens of the United States, in spite of the call to action made so long back to relatively end this battle. This repetition is in stark contrast with the paragraph before it, in which King apparently commemorates the finalizing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which he describes as a “memorable decree”. Because of this, however, he instills a sense of “disgraceful” feelings and seriousness within his readers after basically saying that this favorable landmark in history is being overshadowed by the absence of development made even “one a century later on” as individuals are still “sadly paralyzed by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination”. This duplicated phrase puts time into perspective, and by repeating it, King stresses the ridiculousness of the absence of progress made in such an extended period of time. He stresses and duplicates the word “still” to link the past to the present so that nobody might forget that the oppressions in today are not so far off from the injustices of the past. In this way Martin Luther King uses the empathies of the audience and creates credibility for his upcoming arguments. It is through repeating that he indicates anger and insult without straight needing to speak words of that nature.

The arguably most well-known and significant use of repeating in the speech is the area in which Martin Luther King starts his mantra of “I have a dream …” phrases. This phrase is introduced through the theme of resilience, as he says, “although we deal with the difficulties these days and tomorrow, I still have a dream.” Familiarly, the word “still” is used to promote the concept that oppression will not beat the oppressed. Not just does the expression “I have a dream” represent durability, however also and most importantly represents the idea of hope. A dream is associated with optimism, and not just that, however also functions as inspiration for truth. King’s particular option to utilize “dream” as the primary symbolic item for this speech functions as not simply a dream for him, but for everyone in America to share, and he even admits to this when he states that “it is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream”. In this portion of the speech, King makes use of repeating to strengthen a poetic symbol, however it can also be seen that he utilizes the gadget of contrast in order to first bring up a feeling of sadness and then lift the reader from that by following with a feeling of hope. This is exhibited, for example, in the line “I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of oppression … of oppression … will be changed into an oasis of freedom and justice”. Through this gadget, he produces a visual of redemption and regrowth that leaves a long lasting influence on the minds of his audience and emphasizes that this movement should not be performed through hate but through the idea of “brotherhood”. The repetition of “I have a dream” sends out a message of love in a time of hate, rather than spreading more hate that can be found, as he states, with the “vicious racists”. Taking a look at this speech melodically, the “I have a dream” part can be seen as a build up and as a climax of enthusiasm. King repeats the expression with exclamation to raise enjoyment for the future to come however also to preach to an audience that feeds off of the longing for modification not later, however “today”. The preaching-like delivery of this line also executes a theme of faith in what he is stating, which is something that permits numerous to much better associate with his words and enthusiasms.

Repetition is used in less apparent methods within King’s speech, and these instances provide themselves in more conceptual forms rather than just literal ones. Performing as a sort of conceptual helix, King’s concept of unity through the symbolic act of holding hands appears as soon as and after that reemerges at the end of the speech to tie together this theme of togetherness. At one point within the speech, King paints a positive and innocent image where “little black boys and black girls will have the ability to join hands with little white young boys and white women as sisters and bros”. His implicit usage of kids as the topic of this photo indicate the idea that brotherhood and unity are principles so fundamental that even kids can conceptualize them, consequently individuals of all ages must be able to as well. In this method he also brings soft images of love into the minds of his audience rather than harsh images of hate. “Bro and siblings” implies equality, a sense of love, and genuine empathy. Martin Luther King then leaves this concept to go over other principles, and temporarily puts away the image of holding hands. Nevertheless, this image is returned to when King says at the end of the speech “that day when all of God’s kids, black guys and white males, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will have the ability to sign up with hands and sing”. This is the last statement that Martin Luther King makes before ending the speech with “Free at last!” repeated 3 times, which reveals its importance to his message. King goes back to this handholding image, however this time the topics are no longer children, however “guys” of different races and religions. This transition from children to grown men symbolizes development and growth and an over arching understanding between human beings of any ages to love each other and show compassion. The conceptual helix that King uses unconsciously is more reliable in encircling the minds of the audience with a particular message, instead of just mentioning it once since it ties the whole speech together.