The Use of Rhetorical Devices in I Have a Dream Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On August 28, 1963 Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. offered the huge I Have a Dream speech. One a century earlier, the Emancipation Pronouncement had been provided in 1863 freeing all the slaves. Two years later the Civil War ended in 1865; unfortunately, the racism that began the war and triggered such anger towards the Emancipation Pronouncement did not end. The early 1960s was an extremely challenging time loaded with hatred, racism, and confusion. All sorts of prejudiced laws restricted where African Americans might sit, eat, drink, and even go to the toilet. On that memorable day in August, hundreds of African Americans had gathered for a march on Washington DC. Marches on Washington are relatively common now, however in 1963 they were nearly unusual. In front of the Lincoln Memorial, for one of the first times in history, speeches were offered, prayers were said, and tunes were sung to rally the marchers together in the reason for flexibility and harmony for blacks, and to draw attention to the concerns at hand and demand a solution.

Dr. King was a Baptist minister from Alabama who had actually made many speeches as part of the civil liberties motion, both in his church and other venues. On August 28, 1963 he was 16th on the program, the seventh out of the 9 speakers to speak that day. The listeners were tired and sweltering in the humid heat of the late summer in Washington. Some of Dr. King’s earlier speeches had actually consisted of the “I have a dream” declaration, however none had been really impactful. Advisors had actually warned him not to utilize that expression once again. King wrote his speech without utilizing the expression at all, but as he neared the end of the speech, he set his written text aside and started to tell individuals about his dream. His speech went down in history as one of the best speeches of all time. Through his rhetoric, consisting of allusion, analogy, and repetition, Dr. King provided his beliefs that all males are created equivalent and are inherently endowed with specific unalienable rights, and shared his imagine a society where people of all races might cohabit in consistency, making a powerful argument for the rights of African Americans.

Among the extremely first rhetorical devices King uses is allusion. He begins his 2nd sentence with “5 score years back, a terrific American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today …” By using this statement, Dr. King alludes to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, thus arousing a sense of patriotism in his listeners. Using that opening line likewise establishes a requirement of expectation for the rest of his speech. By utilizing the same style of opening as did the Gettysburg address he sets a comparison in between that historic speech and his own, immediately setting the expectation for his audience that King’s speech will be as effective as Lincoln’s. The allusion to that speech also stirs the memory of the line in the Gettysburg Address “a federal government of the people, by the individuals, and for the people,” which idea he states on in the material of his speech. One last impact that opening two-word phrase “5 rating” had was the exact same as the impact Lincoln’s usage of the phrase had in 1863. It mentioned the grand language of the Bible, and hence utilized a few of the Bible’s principles to include power their speeches. Both Lincoln’s and King’s audiences had a majority of Christians. By mentioning the Bible, King utilized the very same tactic as Lincoln to open his listeners’ ears and hearts, therefore permitting his words to penetrate their innermost emotions, including an unmatchable force to his words that would give his audience the enthusiasm and the drive for continuing the civil liberties movement and enduring the resulting hardships ahead.

Dr. King once again utilizes allusion later on in his speech. He states, “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” In this sentence, he alludes to the atonement when Christ consumed from the bitter cup. However, Dr. King here reverses the order of the words and says “cup of bitterness”. This attains two objectives. First, it compares the civil liberties motion to the satisfaction. As he expounds in the very same paragraph, he wanted the African Americans to endure all the trials and conditions tossed at them with soul force rather of physical force and essentially turn the other cheek. That was precisely what Christ did when he was crucified– he consumed the bitter cup and withstood his hardships without reacting strongly. The 2nd achievement of that allusion was to reveal the gravity of the scenario if the African Americans struck back and became hateful. Christ consumed from the bitter cup. If the blacks drank from the cup of bitterness, they would be partaking of the very same metaphorical poison drunk by Judas and the others who killed Christ. Because one phrase, Dr. King alerted his audience of the possible consequences of letting animosity into their hearts, all through the power of allusion. This played an excellent function in making the civil liberties movement what it was– civil. The blacks that were part of that movement did not strike back or react violently. They civilly did what was right, regardless of persecution, simply as Christ did.

The rhetorical device of analogy is used next. Dr. King compares the march on Washington to cashing a check for the inalienable rights promised to all men in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. He states that America has actually defaulted on that check, and therefore, that the “bank of justice” is bankrupt. In the 1960s, everybody wrote checks. Everyone handled bankers and understood the concept of cashing in a check. By using this example, King did two things. Initially, he developed a basic contrast that everybody might comprehend, so that the concept of the march would be not simply an abstract concept, however rather, an action with a purpose. He provided their march a sense of uniformity and concrete meaning. Second, through this easy comparison, he used the example to put the circumstance in terms so uncomplicated regarding make the actions of the United States federal government sound definitely ludicrous. The American federal government would default on a check, and declare insolvency? The United States was formed on the concept of balance in between liberty and justice! No one can state insolvency on something inherent to them, inherently in their nature.

At the very end of his speech, Reverend King again uses examples. He declares, “With this faith, we will have the ability to hew out of the mountain of anguish a stone of hope … we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our country into a gorgeous symphony of brotherhood …” The first analogy used here compares despair to a mountain, and intend to a stone that is cut away from that mountain. It is in that first example that King fully connects with his audience. Because analogy, he recognizes the situation for what it is. He sees what the African Americans are going through and what they are feeling– a mountain of misery. In that analogy he shows them that he understands and is really acquainted with the crushing, agonizing, overwhelming pain of anguish and hopelessness. However then he reveals the audience that there is hope and that it can be gained through the trials they are facing. He says that hope is a stone that can be cut out of the mountain of misery– misery and despondence, through Christ, can cause hopefulness and eventually, happiness.

The second analogy discussed says that, “we will be able to change the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” Here Dr. King acknowledges that the nation is not at its finest. The jangling discords represent the conflict between the blacks and whites– they clash constantly and the contention leads to an across the country issue where both races dislike each other. An orchestra requires all of the instrumentalists to play in harmony– if they all attempt to beat each other by seeing who can play his instrument the loudest, the orchestra does not sound proficient at all. Dr. King fixes the metaphor by stating that it will be possible to take that inharmonic jangling and transform it into a beautiful symphony. If all of the instrumentalists play in harmony and balance, the orchestra will sound gorgeous; if everyone in the United States deals with each other with generosity and respect, the people of the country will come to have a feeling of brotherhood and the country will function properly. As revealed, not only does the analogy make the primary principle easier to comprehend, it connects imagery with the concept. That makes the principle a lot more concrete and meaningful to the people defending it. Dr. King effectively made use of analogies to assist every member of his audience see what they were pursuing, and therefore press forward with a lot more unanimity and gusto.

Among the most essential rhetorical gadgets Dr. King used was repetition. Although it is utilized in numerous locations, it is most commonly remembered at the very end of the speech when Dr. King informs his audience about his dream. He screams, “I have a dream” then expounds on what that dream is– whether it be for the nation to rise to its creed that “all guys are produced equivalent”, or that “little black kids and black ladies will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sis and brothers.” In between each of those statements Dr. King states “I have a dream today.” That repetition drives house Dr. King’s argument like absolutely nothing else could. In stating he has a dream, he clarifies the truth that all the African Americans have actually ever had the ability to do in America is dream of a much better life. Nevertheless, when King states, “I have a dream today,” what he actually is saying is that he has a dream today that will be a reality tomorrow. It will not be a dream forever. By repeating that expression, “I have a dream today,” he reveals that there is expect the future, and that hope is the very same hope held by every other African American and warrior in the civil rights motion, which that hope has the potential to not just be a hope permanently– if the people work hard, that hope can end up being real scenarios.

Through his rhetoric, Dr. King produced an outstanding speech and argument. Through allusion, example, and repeating, to name a few rhetorical gadgets, he successfully showed to his audience and to African Americans throughout the United States that hope exists. That hope provided courage, and that guts made it possible for them to win the civil rights movement, gaining rights to education, suffrage, and overall equal treatment. His speech had an even wider impact than that though.