Rhetorical Analysis Of Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream

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If Martin Luther King would have stuck to the written text that lay before him, he would not be known to the world as the defining speaker of the March on Washington 50 years ago. I Have A Dream, his speech about injustice and hardship was delivered to inspire change in both, black and white citizens of the United States during the Civil Rights era, and to this day his speech is an important part of American history. On August 28th 2013, Barack Obama held a speech to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the great March on Washington, which reached a climax in one of the greatest speeches of all times. As the very first black president of the United States, it seems logical to draw a direct line from him to Martin Luther King. But this one…show more content…
Beginning with a long allegory about freedom for black people, he uses the imagery of being behind a great leader, namely Abraham Lincoln. Imagery as such could also be linked to ethos, as Lincoln was the father of the Emancipation Proclamation. Towards the end of the speech pathos is used again, when King discusses the brutality that black citizens of the U.S. experienced and the constant inability to find jobs and to stay in certain public places. The images and ornaments in MLK’s speech are religious, and the tone is both informative, argumentative. These biblical images can be seen in the quote: “That one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low … the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together”. This way, MLK lets his audience catch a glimpse of a possible and decent…show more content…
Though, in order to pay tribute to MLK’s speech, he has woven a few subtle references into his own speech. “People of all colors and creeds, and fight alongside one another and love one another, and judge one another by the content of our character in this greatest nation on Earth”, is a passage in which Obama refers to MLK’s quote “One day my four little children will not be judged by the colour of the skin but by the content of their character”. The use of polysyndeton in Obama’s passage adds power and significance to the other words and slows down the pace of the sentence. Obama concludes his speech by making use of strong rhetorical techniques consisting of body language to increase the volume of his voice, and ethos by repeating “That’s where courage comes from” and “With that courage”. Before ending his speech, Obama pays one last tribute to Martin Luther King, with the quote “And when millions of Americans of every race and every region, every faith and every station can join together in a spirit of brotherhood, then those mountains will be made low, and those rough places will be made plain, and those crooked place, they straighten out towards grace”. Obama ends his speech in the same way he began it, with a reference to another historical text all Americans know, the pledge of allegiance: “one nation under

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