“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation”. This is the first line of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech. Martian Luther King’s speech took place after the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. He delivered the speech on the Lincoln Memorial steps. He voiced this speech to millions of people both blacks and whites. This speech is one of the greatest speeches of the civil rights movement, because it has many rhetorical tropes such as; repetition, assonance and consonance, pathos, logos, metaphors and ethos. Martin Luther King Jr. uses a lot of repetition in his “I Have a Dream” speech. They are scattered throughout the speech but in very close proximities of each other. One of the repetitions in his “I Have a dream”. Not only is this the name of the speech of the speech but in today’s world it has become a common phrase used in everyday life as people announce their dream to either themselves or loved ones. The phrase is even used by children who dare to dream big. Martian Luther King Jr. uses this phase to show what he sees in the future of America.
One of the phrases he uses with it is: “I have dream the one day this nation will and live out the true meaning of its creed: we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” Another is “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their nature. I have a dream today.” That part of the speech was very personal and touching. Using his own children as an example helped to touch people where the heart is. Repeating “I Have a Dream” helped people to start thinking about their own personal dreams that they might have had also. Two other repetitions Martin Luther King Jr. uses is “Let freedom ring” and “Free at last”, but I will be using those phrases in another part of this analyzed paper. In Martin Luther King Jr. speech he also uses many assonances and consonances. These are the most occurring and mostly found toward the end of his speech. One of them is “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” This was the last word of the speech.
He used this phrase to show all the listeners that African Americans have come so far and fought so hard to get where we are today. Even though today there are many forms of slavery today, but it is nowhere near as bad as it was when slavery first started. That phrase was a very strong and powerful closing. It more than likely gave African Americas to strength and mind set to believe that the world is not what it used to be. It gave African Americans the mind set to move forward in life and stop dreading on the past. Martin Luther King Jr was trying to get us to open our mind set to see a greater tomorrow. Others are “molehill of Mississippi”, “Lookout Mountain”, “curvaceous peaks of California”, and “Rockies of Colorado”. They all have a poetic feeling to them.
Martin Luther King Jr. uses pathos in his speech as well as many other things. He uses pathos to appeal to all the people who were truly listening to his speech’s emotions. One of the things he says to appeal to their emotions are, “When will we be satisfied? We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of cities. Martin Luther King Jr. is basically saying that it is time for African American to stop moving and letting the white people take what is ours. Martin Luther King Jr. once again wants us to open our minds and see the foolery that the white people have dragged us through. Martin Luther King Jr. also says, “I have a dream that my four children will on day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”. As I stated earlier while speaking on the repetition of “I have a dream”, that phrased grabbed attention to all those people in the audience who had children and also wished the same things for them. No parent want their child to suffer the way they did. Most parents pray to God that there children have a life that is tenfold of their own.
Logos means reason. Martin Luther King Jr. uses logos to show why he is delivering this speech and why he wants things to change. He is delivering this speech to show how many blacks and other races, that weren’t being treated equally, really did not have freedom like they should. “It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro”. “Instead of honoring the sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds’”. These quotes are just a couple of the logos quotes Martin Luther King Jr said in his speech. Metaphors, which is another useful rhetorical
trope, are essential to help audiences fully understand an idea as it compares an idea with something the audience is familiar with, which is important to bring out modes such as ethos and pathos. King uses a series of more complicated metaphors in the middle of his essay.
He claims that by the Constitution and Declaration of Independence,” the forefathers of America were “signing a promissory note” that all men, whatever color, would be granted the same rights. However, King then says in the view of the Negroes, the US government have given the Negroes a “bad check,” a bad check that does not promise them the same results that have been given to the white population. Later on. King says that many equal rights activists have been “battered by the storms of persecution” and the “winds of police brutality.” Through this metaphor. King paints the upholders of the Jim Crow laws, the laws suppressing blacks, in a bad light. These two metaphors both relate to ethos as the first metaphor invokes the ethic of keeping your promises while the second metaphor involves torture, something which most of the American population was against. Finally, King uses several last metaphors when he writes that with faith, it is possible to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a “beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” This metaphor, on the other hand, is related to pathos as the audience immediately feels good due to the king’s choice of words. All of these metaphors are aimed to make the audience realize that continued racial in justice will lead to total chaos while racial equality leads to a beautiful society.
Overall, the metaphors King uses are effective to support the ethos and pathos as they make the audience realize that the U.S. has cheated the Negros, that those who uphold the Jim Crow laws are evil and that it is possible to transform the U.S. society. In conclusion, Martin Luther King, Jr’s most famous speech was the I Have a Dream” speech given in 1963 during one of the most famous marches in history, the 200,000-strong “March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom.” At the time, America was in the grips of racism and segregation, making the lives of many blacks living hell. “I Have a Dream,” however, played a major step into changing it. It managed to inspire a generation of blacks to never give up and made thousands of white Americans bitterly ashamed of their actions, forging a new start for society. Even now, it continues to make generations of people, not just Americans, to give up their racist beliefs and advocate social colorblindness. Without King, America would be probably still heavily segregated. Other than the speech’s heartwarming and moving content, King’s effective structure along with the usage of all three rhetorical modes and certain rhetorical tropes and schemes has revealed the reason “I Have a Dream” as a masterpiece of rhetoric and it persuades hundreds of thousands of people support the blacks instead of treating them unfairly.
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