I Have A Dream Analysis Essay, Research Paper
I Have a Dream Analysis
The “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most influential speeches ever. Martin Luther used different parts of the English language to enhance the meaning of his speech and bring out the details. The different rhetorical devices, allusions to historic documents, and metaphors seemed to have brought about the emotions that King was trying to arouse in his listeners. This helped him influence his listeners towards wanting equality for all and changing what was happening in the present so they didn’t repeat things in the past
The very title of his speech was probably taken from his use of anaphora which was present throughout his speech. “I have a dream that one day the nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed? that all men are created equal.” For the next few lines of his speech he repeated these words, “I have a dream,” which helped arouse emotion in his audience and give them hope. This hope was that they would one day be treated as equals and walk side by side with the all other races. King uses his the phrase “I have a dream today,” twice as its own paragraph. This statement was probably spoken with great emphasis since it gave the listeners the desire to change “today” instead of continuing to be discriminated against. Martin Luther King’s speech could have very well been titled something else but because of his use of anaphora which strongly emphasized these words it earned itself the title “I Have a Dream.”
Martin Luther King’s use of alluding to other historic documents, which also deal with equality issues, helped his speech reach the listener. These allusions were probably geared more towards the white listeners than it was towards the black because it provided textual evidence from past documents which stated that all men were created equal and all people should have the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. King also makes a few allusions to the Bible; “Let us not seek to satisfy thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred,” is the first allusion to the Bible in his speech. King does not want the equality-seeking listeners to go out and use force or start a battle to get their freedom because then it would give the white people a reason to fight. They would be able to say that the black people were starting a violent protest and needed to be stopped and therefore retaliate with “physical violence”. King was smart though and by saying these words he reassured his followers that their destiny and their freedom would not be left in the hands of others and that they would be able to control their own future.
“When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! thank God almighty, we are free at last!” This entire last paragraph of King’s speech is an example of parallelism. This shows that all of these different races and religions are no better than the other. By doing this it seems as though King is trying to let his listeners know that they aren’t the only ones that are discriminated against. All religions are looked down upon by other religions and until they can stand at the same level as the others they will all have problems with not being treated as equals.
Another literary device that also has a lot of influence is his use of metaphors. “One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty and in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” King points out in the very beginning how even though the black people are freed from slavery they are still slaves to the “manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.” When he is speaking about the Declaration of Independence and how it guaranteed all people the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, King says, “America has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.” The check he is speaking of is a comparison to their right to equality, which as of yet they feel they have not received. All of the examples of metaphors were comparing how the black people were discriminated against and being on the receiving end of injustices which were inflicted by the white man.