'I have a Dream' - analysis of Martin Luther King's speech.

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Tereza Sokol, 2i        Essay on MLK’s “I have a dream” speech May 2012


Essay on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech “I had a dream”

(Answering question 1)

Throughout Martin Luther King’s life he has written a series of speeches in connection to the Civil Rights Movement for the African-American people. Some more famous than others, but there is no doubt that most famous speech of them all, is the speech King prepared for the demonstration, known as the “March on Washington”, at the Lincoln Memorial on the 28th of august 1963 “I have a dream”. Besides the people, who participated in the demonstration and who he spoke directly to, the speech was televised on national television, so a broad audience indeed.

King is famous for mastering the art of pure persuasion with the use of many rhetorical devices, imagery and allusions. Just a few lines[1] into the speech, is the first use of imagery. He describes the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln as the following:

“… a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves, who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice” (Line 32-33, page 223)

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 Here, the imagery emphasizes and clarifies the message in this phrase, not only because everyone has positive connotations with light and negative with flames, but also because King speaks from a Christian point of view and the light is a reference to Heaven and God, while the flames a reference to Hell and the Devil.

At this time, Christianity was a much bigger part of society, than it is today, so the effect of this imagery was much stronger, than it would be if you read it today, and the contrast between the two images even more ...

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