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Rhetorical Analysis Of "I Have A Dream" Speech By Martin Luther King Jr.

935 words - 4 pages

From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial more than two score years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King electrified America with his momentous "I Have a Dream" speech. Aimed at the entire nation, King’s main purpose in this speech was to convince his audience to demand racial justice towards the mistreated African Americans and to stand up together for the rights afforded to all under the Constitution. To further convey this purpose more effectively, King cleverly makes use of the rhetorical devices — ethos, pathos and logos — using figurative language such as metaphors and repetition as well as various other techniques e.g. organization, parallel construction and choice of title.
In the preamble, King employs the strategy of ethos, a technique which helps build a person’s good character and genuine authority. By referring to the hundred years span as "five score," and recalling the promise inherent in Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, King not only recalls the former president Abraham Lincoln, but also gains credibility. In particular, King’s illusion to Lincoln, one of the few political figures of American history respected by both African American [Plural]and Caucasians alike, sets a tone of veracity. Through this allusion, King also sets a framework of honesty and justice in which the white majority could judge the truthfulness of the charges, as ultimately, it is the dominant culture that controls the ability to effect any real changes. Consequently, without the allusion to Abraham Lincoln, King's assertion that African American are “still not free" would have served to divide the people, rather than unite them in purpose and in truth.
The speech was further intended for all Americans and as a result, King uses first person plural, “we” on several occasions e.g. “we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.” (King). By doing so, King is treating his diverse audience as a whole, as if they are one body that must help each other and making everybody feel equal. Not only does this symbolizes [Agreement]brotherhood, but also gives King a reliable reputation as he develops a degree of trust from his audience by using the all inclusive “we”.
"We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice". [Avoid starting a paragraph on a quote. Instead, create a strong transition sentence in your own words]With these words, King employs the technique of logos, the logic, as he appeals to the African American population not to give up their fight for civil equality. Furthermore, the organization of the speech is also quite...

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