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

The speech “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King, is a compelling one, designed to promote faith amongst a people, who are victims of gross prejudice. How may the rhetorical devices used by King have assisted him in achieving his objectives?

In his speech, “I Have a Dream”, Martin Luther King successfully utilizes an array of rhetorical gadgets in order to implant faith into the minds and hearts of the audience. Regardless of the lots of difficulties that most of his audience dealt with throughout such a time of partition and bias, King motivates them to trust the future and what he dreams will end up being a nation without bias and racism.

One gadget that King utilizes to cultivate faith within the audience is structure. Through structure, King is able to offer context to 3 various kinds of audiences. The structure of the speech exists in a sequential manner– firstly dealing with the past, followed by the present and lastly the future. In the first part of the speech, King addresses the challenges faced by blacks in the past– attractive directly to those who were experiencing the effects of racism first hand. By making specific historic references, King is able to trigger the audience to desire and trust his vision for the future. One example of this is when King mentions the emancipation pronouncement and how “when hundred years later on, the life of the Negro is still unfortunately crippled by the manacles of partition and the chains of discrimination …” By using terms such as “manacles” and “chains,” which are clear recommendations to the time of slavery, King makes it possible for the audience to evoke emotions of anger and discomfort that would hopefully result in a change; resulting in a much better tomorrow. Another example of this is when King states that blacks are living “on a lonely island of poverty in the middle of a large ocean of material prosperity.” This aids King in promoting hope as it encourages unity. It calls for the whites to consider the discomfort and troubles that blacks were and still are dealing with in America and how they were essentially the reason for that sufferings.

In the second area of the speech, King talks about the present and the civil rights movement. It remains in this area that he attends to the second kind of audience; the whites with a racist mentality. King makes a range of scriptural referrals that permits the audience to comprehend the essence and necessity of the civil rights movement. Something that King makes clear in his speech is that his vision of equality must not be acquired through violence. This idea interest values as it allows the audience to comprehend and respect what type of individual King is. This context reveals that King is a guy of peace and that he isn’t happy to overlook what he believes to be ethically right in order to get what he wants. Not just is this principle of not reacting (and practically taking on the function of martyrs) a recommendation to religious beliefs, however so is the way in which it is stated. King speaks very prophetically throughout the entire speech however the method he provides this idea sounds as if it was quoted directly from the bible itself. An example of this is: “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for liberty by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” King’s usage of biblical allusions is effective as it advises the audience that everything that he points out is in arrangement with the bible and that they must support his vision. By making both historic and scriptural referrals throughout the speech, King allows the audience to trust him and what he is saying. This trust that King develops with the audience permits him to become one step even more in fostering faith in the audience.

Another rhetoric technique that King utilizes is metaphor. One of the most unforgettable metaphors that King utilizes is the check analogy. King compares the injustice that blacks get in America to a “bad check … which has actually come back marked ‘inadequate funds’.” This metaphor is able to unite the audience due to its relatable nature. King used this and other metaphors in order to stimulate strong feelings, such as anger and decision that would inspire the audience to make a modification. King likewise utilizes metaphor when he states that with faith, “the jangling discords” of America can be transformed “into a gorgeous symphony of brotherhood.” Through this metaphor, King informs the audience that life is more difficult when we are disjointed; when everyone is equal and merged, whatever is easier and everyone mores than happy.

Along with metaphor, King also uses recurring devices such as anaphora, epistrophe and isocolon in order to promote faith in the audience. An example of anaphora can be seen when King spoke of today. He reminds the audience that “Now is the time to materialize the pledges of democracy; now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial injustice …” The word ‘now’ was repeated many times in this area of the speech. King utilizes this technique in order to emphasize to the audience that there is no time at all to waste, that determination and action is the crucial to alter. King’s usage of epistrophe is a lot more efficient than anaphora. An example of this strategy is when King says that “with this faith we will have the ability to interact, to pray together, to have a hard time together, to defend flexibility together …” The repetition of the word ‘together’ combines the audience as it reveals that they are not alone, that nobody will be left behind. This method works due to the fact that the repeating occurs at the end of the line and is the last thing that will be remembered. This will also motivate them to advance in the defend racial equality.

An additional repetitive technique that King utilizes to influence the audience is isocolon. An example of this device is when King tells the audience to “Return to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana.” In addition to making the speech more unforgettable and linking a number of ideas, making use of isocolon is used by King as a means of boosting the audiences’ spirits. He motivates them to return to the states that are most effected by racism and make a change. He prompts them to be hopeful too, as he tells them to go back “knowing that somehow this circumstance can and will be altered.”