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Analyse Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" Speech

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Introduction

King was a clergyman who employed non-violent methods to achieve an advancement of Civil Rights, not just in USA but around the world. He became an icon of modern American liberalism due to his flair for motivating his audiences into action and this was recognised by him being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. His father was also a Baptist preacher so it isn?t surprising to see that it impacts his choice of language. He was already accustomed to forming a relationship with his audience in order to communicate meaningfully and he simply transferred this talent from religion to politics. In this speech he uses a range of techniques, from the repeated use of an anaphora to the use of a more simplistic metaphor, many of which are influenced by his background. This is evident when he talks of ?God?s children.? This religious imagery establishes trust, builds hope and forms a rapport which brings King closer to his audience which means they are persuaded to agree with what is said. A more subtle example is the use of paradox to heighten his message. By saying that they should meet ?physical force with soul force? he is showing his spiritual roots and his belief of always having a non-violent protest. ...read more.

Middle

In his opening sentence he sets the historical context which adds gravitas and makes it sound monumental. Although he didn?t know it at the time, he was right in saying it would ?go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom? as many believe this speech prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a landmark legislation that outlawed discrimination. This assured style gained the trust and support of his listeners to join him on his crusade for justice. He uses 2 metaphors in the sentence ?The Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity? to simplify the situation for the audience. It clarifies the message that while America is rich, Negroes are forced to live in poverty which shows the segregation and reveals attitudes. He could have explained this without the use of a metaphor yet it wouldn?t have had the same impact on the audience or whipped the crowd into hysteria as it did. He personifies ?Now? to add forcefulness to the message and incite immediate action. After this, an anaphora is used to reiterate the vital point. ...read more.

Conclusion

Intonation is used to express meaning and affects tone in key parts. Raising his voice marks importance of words and the audience takes greater notice. ?Free at last!? is exclaimed at the climatic ending of the speech and he raises the volume and tone of his voice to show his passion therefore evoking the same emotion throughout the audience thus instilling confidence. The huge range of rhetoric used means it was very appealing to those listening at the time and will continue be for all future generations. It is particularly significant in the 21st Century as America has its first black president which proves how much things have changed since King?s time. His aim was to unite the nation which he achieved with this speech. He uses a peaceful approach as there is no use of invection and it does not criticise the white man which meant that it appeals to white and black people because both would have felt it was relevant to them. His rapport with his audience caused them to become open to his dream, meaning it was no longer just a black man?s dream but also the white man?s dream. It then became American?s dream. It is now America?s reality. ...read more.

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