Nndr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have A Dream'

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. , a Baptist minister and activist, presented his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech on August 28, 1963 in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. He delivered this speech pertaining to the racial injustice African Americans were facing in the southern states due to white supremacy. King exercises devices such as allusion, anaphora, and simile to establish pathos to motivate his followers to demonstrate unity and fight the system until they are granted full and equal liberty. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. utilizes anaphora to emphasize how urgent their current situation is. At the end of his speech King strongly states ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’ to leave his audience with emotion. King wanted to embed ‘Free at last!’ into his audience’s mind which is the reason why he repeated it three times.

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This phrase gave a great effect on the audience as mostly all who attended had a connection and acknowledgement of what it stood for. Repetition and shouting most likely made the audience feel a sense of hope in that they will gain full freedom soon if they unite. Additionally, King mentioned another famously known anaphora ‘I have a dream’ in which King repeats to make an emphasis on his dream that everybody no matter the race or the color of their skin should be treated equally and fairly to create an emotional climax. ‘I have a dream’ points out what the ‘Negros’ are fighting and hoping for which is that one day they will get to live out their ideal life. He created a point that his followers are all fighting for the same goal thus creating an atmosphere of hope and determination. Overall his usage of anaphora tied together everything he mentioned as they brought out the key points in his speech. It also built a strong sense of emotion which was effective as he applied it to convey a goal for everyone. King includes allusion to make a comparison to references in history to what they are facing now. King begins his speech with an allusion by recalling Gettysburg with ‘Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. ‘ to say that one hundred years have gone by since that historical event and look what has happened since then, look where they are now.

Just like a hundred years ago, ‘Negros’ had faced obstacles and hardships and King used this allusion to make a statement that they are still facing these things today and it needs to change. King chose his word choice with purpose because he was figuratively and literally standing in the ‘shadow’ of Abraham Lincoln as he was giving his speech in front of the Lincoln monument. This phrase gives the effect that the audience is witnessing history as they live and face through these obstacles. King adds another allusion by including a verse: ”and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together. ” for not only his religious followers but also those who understand what is being said to make his point that his dream of racial equality and justice is in accordance to God’s dream and it will be realized. By using this verse it makes King’s speech more sensible and creditable as it comes from the holy words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This verse is from the verse Isaiah 40:5 which King included as sort of irony because if people were really religious they would follow and listen to the words of God and love everyone instead of spreading all this hate in sin. This verse gave the audience not only the effect of understanding in what King mentions, it also made them believe in his words. Overall King’s usage of allusion builds a strong sense of pathos to say we should want to progress and move on from hatred and the past. This device was very effectively as it conveys a connection with his audience. King implements similes to compare between the times ‘Negros’ faced obstacles.

One example of simile is when King in the beginning of his speech stated ‘The momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. ‘ to create a feel of sympathy. This simile is used to compare to how they are being treated ‘one hundred years later’ after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. What King means by ‘a great beacon light of hope’ is that he is referring to a light house as a light house offers assurance and guide. Also, what he means by ‘a great beacon light of hope’ is that the Emancipation Proclamation brought hope to enslaved slaves. The textual evidence is a simile due to the fact that King uses the word ‘as’ to compare the feelings of the enslaved slave to ‘a great beacon light’. This gives the audience the effect of anger and disappointment because since the Emancipation Proclamation promised full freedom why don’t they have it. King continues to add on to similes by including the verse ”justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream” from the Bible to create a feeling of power with pathos. He includes this verse because it relates to the rest of the speech by demonstrating King’s main point and that is there will be no stop till there is racial equality for all. He takes this verse out from Amos 5:24 because this chapter in the bible discusses racial inequality which was smart for King to include. Amos compared ‘justice’ to ‘waters’ and ‘righteousness’ to ‘a mighty stream’ as a way to say he was seeking revolutionary change. This in turn gives the audience the determination to achieve the goal that social equality will become a normal thing in society.

Overall the usage of simile was effective as both examples illustrated a connection to pathos by making the audience have an epiphany for change. In this speech the repetition of phrases created anticipation as it evoked the listeners feelings. The similes attracted the listener’s attention which in turn allowed them to understand what is being said. The allusion engaged the listener as it simplified King’s ideas. He used these devices to convey his message that everybody should look to make the future better by seeing each other as equal. It is very clear that his speech was very creditable as it is thoroughly researched. The overall purpose in this speech is to emphasize that nothing has changed so we must come together to make a change.

31 October 2020

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