Ctw #2: On The Sublime Essay

1137 words - 5 pages

In his book On the Sublime, Longinus rhetorically identifies five principal elements to the art of mastering sublimity, through the use of written texts. Longinus defines sublimity as, “a kind of eminence or excellence of discourse […] sublimity on the other hand, produced at the right moment, tears everything up like a whirlwind and exhibits the orator’s power at a single blow” (Longinus 347). However, there is great jeopardy when writers seek to produce subliminal messages. Longinus describes the difference between messages being falsely and truly sublime. He characterizes false sublimity as “puerile” and bombastic. True sublimity will touch the audience’s heart; it goes beyond words, ...view middle of the document...

com) More importantly, in this paper, I will use Longinus’s five principal sources of sublimity as my foundation, and compare it to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and how his speech epitomizes what it means to have a text that is sublime.
Greatness of Thoughts
Martin Luther King knew from the moment he stepped foot on stage that his speech had an urgency and a purpose. The March on Washington was not something to go in vain, there was a reason for why some 250,000 people were there, and that purpose was to demonstrate and expose the racial inequalities blacks faced. Above all, Dr. King knew that his speech was not just for the people surrounding him, but also for people all across America. Longinus notes on page 150, “natural greatness, is the most important. Even if it is a matter of endowment rather than acquisition, we must, so far as is possible, develop our minds in the direction of greatness and make them always pregnant with noble thought” (350). This is exactly what Martin Luther King did. His thoughts were so great that he never knew that not only would his speech, touch the lives of his followers, but those who did not believe, as well as, the world and generations that followed. King’s speech did exactly what he intended it to do. His speech gave reassurance to those who thought about giving up, but because of his thought it transcended into the mind’s of other’s and was the reaffirmation to never give up and fight for what is right. “I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers” (AmericanRhetoric.com). King achieved his goal not only through his words, but with the visual imagery he set in the mind’s of those watching, as a way to give insight into a better future.
Nobile Feelings
Furthermore, if it was not for Dr. King’s passion in his speech, I am not sure if his audience would have reacted the same. The way he spoke illuminated...

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