Analysis of “I Have a Dream” Speech

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. offered a speech that energized a country. In Washington D.

C, King delivered his speech on the steps of the Lincoln memorial and as his effective voice echoed out across an audience of 200,000 individuals, echoes of the Gettysburg address might be heard in addition to the Declaration and the Bible. It has actually been called “masterfully provided and improvised sermon, bursting with scriptural language and imagery. “The enthusiastic speech is filled with rhetorical gadgets that help ground into earth King’s demands of racial equality and protests of social injustice.

The 2nd paragraph of the speech starts with “5 rating years back”, an allusion to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. This is especially poignant due to the reality that the speech was given on the actions of his memorial. A memorial to the president who passed the emancipation proclamation. Martin Luther King Jr. continues with comparing this (the emancipation proclamation) “momentous decree” to a “terrific beacon light” to those who had actually “been seared in the flames of withering oppression” in an example of a simile and then a metaphor.

The metaphor is broadened to call the proclamation “a jubilant daybreak” to a “long night.” The metaphors help prove King’s point through contrasting two abstract concepts through concrete things. The last sentence of the second paragraph is the first of numerous referrals to the bible. In comparing Psalms 30:5 “For his anger is however for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping might remain for the night, but happiness comes with the morning” to King’s line” It came as a jubilant daybreak to end the long night of their captivity” the parallels can be seen.

The use of biblical recommendations helps connect the work of MLK to the bible and divine things. Southerners remaining in the “bible belt” and dominantly Christian, this referral to the bible strikes house to these slaveholders. The 3rd paragraph contains a strong example of anaphora with the repeating of “one hundred years later” 4 times. This is used to thrust home the point of how long the suffrage has actually gone on. The period is essential but likewise the impact of its repetition makes the paragraph seem longer and extracted- like the oppressions that are still being suffered- one hundred years later on.

Likewise a simile is utilized to compare segregation to imprisonment in the phrases “manacles of segregation” and “chains of discrimination.” The usage of these rhetorical devices relates slavery to jail and additional contrast it from the biblical allusions used with equality. Paragraph 4 of the speech is a big metaphor for an allusion to the United States Declaration of Independence which is later on cited directly. In Specific King alludes to the statement in stating “unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of joy.” Which within itself is a tricolon rises.

This allusion to such an important American document is utilized to support King’s theme of equality by mentioning its resonance in the purely American file. Throughout this part of the speech King makes a metaphor of these ensured rights stating they are a “promissory note”. This metaphor links these intangible unalienable rights to something tangible which falls into place with the rest of the broadened metaphor. He goes on the say that the Negro people have actually gotten “a bad check” and when they tried to cash this check is comes back marked “”inadequate funds.” These metaphors feed into the larger one of a residents rights to a pledge of a bank. Martin Luther King Jr. shows his hope the country in the continuation of the metaphor in which he declines to think “the bank of justice” is insolvent and that there are inadequate funds in the “fantastic vaults of opportunity”. In addition he makes a metaphor of flexibility to riches and security to justice. Using all these smaller metaphors feed into the larger one and these rhetorical gadgets are utilized to connect intangible to tangible.

Likewise this reveals the realist side of the speaker, not just does he point and reference scriptural things but likewise he understands the importance of equality to blacks financially. The fourth “paragraph” of the speech ends with an example of anaphora. A short enthusiastic phrase of “now is the time” is repeated four times back to back to back to back in the last 4 lines of the paragraph. These rhetorical gadgets have an effective effect and include a definitive, confident feel. Martin Luther King Jr. in this conclusion likewise makes another metaphor with saying racial oppression is “quick sands” and brotherhood is a “strong rock. These metaphors likewise connect the intangible with the concrete creating a contrast. Apples and bananas are different however the difference of great and bad is harder to see. When connected to reality things the visualization is made. The remainder of the speech includes a number of more independent metaphors, all used to support Martin Luther King Jr.’s points. “The whirlwinds of revolt will shake the structures of our nation up until the intense day of justice emerges”; making a metaphor of revolt to a whirlwind and justice to a brilliant day.

Yet once again, metaphors are used to represent abstract ideas with concrete things to create a contrast. In another location it is seen that storm resemble persecution and winds like authorities cruelty. Tying in the earlier metaphor to jail time, this usage of a rhetorical device shows the vicious circle Negroes were coping with. At some point it ends up being repetitive all of the metaphors of justice to everything from money to the bible. However yet again oppression is metaphored to “sweltering … eat” (alluding to Richard III act one, scene one, line one) and justice to an “oasis” yet another circumstances in which the metaphors are used to reveal contrast. In the future the entire nation is metaphored to as in “jangling discords” which with brotherhood it can be transformed into a “gorgeous symphony.” This metaphor is a nice break for all of those to justice however still the very same concepts sound through. This usage of a rhetorical device ties to the topic at hand to a larger more national scale. A few of the most famous parts of this speech are due to the use of anaphora.

In numerous circumstances, besides those already noted, Martin Luther King Jr. uses this rhetorical gadget to sink his point deep into the hearts and minds of those who have actually heard it. He utilizes the phrase “We can never ever be satisfied” 6 times in paragraph thirteen. This strongly blunt declaration repeated over and over again is captivating and unifying. Then in paragraph fourteen King utilizes “return to” 6 times to develop a larger size to his efforts. After building up the crowd this use of anaphora disperses hope of a much better tomorrow to all. No matter where, to everybody. Then in the onsecutive paragraph pertains to most well-known line of a speech possibly ever: “I have a dream. “

He transitions from we, as a part of the crowd, to I, separating himself as a leader; sharing his dream. While these words may be the most popular, the speech ends with another example of anaphora that are the most important words of the speech. They are “Let liberty ring.” After alluding to “My nation’t is of thee” and its chorus line “let flexibility ring” he expands to state let freedom ring in Pennsylvania, Colorado, California, Georgia, Tennessee and “from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. This all encompassing freedom is Martin Luther King’s dream and this beautiful anaphora increases the magnificence of the allusion. The depth of Martin Luther King Jr. and his speech is seen in his lots of allusions. Thirteen ends with an allusion to Amos 5:24 with “But let judgment diminished as waters, and righteousness as a magnificent stream” which echoes in King’s line “No, no, we are not pleased, and we will not be pleased up until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a magnificent stream”.

Another biblical allusion is in I have a dream that one day every valley will be honored, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked locations will be made straight; and the splendor of the Lord will be revealed and all flesh will see it together. Which echoes Isaiah 40:4 -5 “Every valley shall be exalted, and very mountain and hill will be made low: and the jagged shall be made straight, and the rough locations plain: and the magnificence of the LORD shall be exposed, and all flesh will see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. Both “And when this occurs, … we will have the ability to accelerate that day when all of God’s kids, black males and white guys, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will have the ability to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual” and Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor complimentary, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” All of these scriptural referrals link the “dream’ of king to the biblical writings.

There are two extra non-biblical examples seen in his referencing to “My country Tis of Thee” and “Free at last” works of American music. Martin Luther King Jr. also makes multiple allusions to the Declaration (some emitted as previously pointed out prior to). Consisting of the direct quote of “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all males are produced equivalent. “Another very closely associated allusion is seen where he says “I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream”.

In both circumstances, King is saying that his dream is no different than that of our founding fathers. What pointing the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution does is show the authenticity of his dream: it is straight seen in both files. While it might not be precise anaphora the repetition of words such as liberty (utilized twenty times) and justice (eight) must be viewed as noteworthy. What they do as anaphora (a rhetorical gadget) is assistance the essential themes of the whole speech- freedom and justice.

If there is any impression to be drawn from the speech it is the concepts of equality, justice and flexibility for ALL. From the allusions to the metaphors and similes, the “I Have a Dream” speech is cluttered with rhetorical gadgets but just what is rhetoric? Rhetoric is the art of captivating the soul (Plato) and the faculty of discovering in any particular case all of the available means of persuasion (Aristotle). It is making use of rhetoric that sets this speech a part, makes it so famous and adds to its success in the dispersing of one man’s dream to change his world for the better.