MLK Speech Assignment Essay

Q1:  MLK had a number of objectives when he made this speech.  He wished to remind the government and the ruling classes that they had once made a promise to treat all men as equal and were failing to keep that promise by allowing the prejudice, racism and discrimination towards the African American community in America to continue.  He purpose during this speech was to encourage both African Americans and white Americans to fight for what was right; freedom from inequality and suppression.

Q2:  Martin Luther was a very intelligent man and he effectively utilized English language to enhance the meaning of the words he spoke and the feelings it engendered.  Through the utilization of rhetorical devices, references to established and respected historical documents and strong metaphors he set out to arouse strong emotions in those who listened to his speech.  One example of this can be found in the metaphor of the negro, “still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.”  By using this metaphor, MLK reminded his audience that the discrimination they suffered was a form of slavery. This image is enforced though literal imagery such as “bodies” that are “heavy with fatigue of travel” and cannot “gain lodging.

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“Q3:  Throughout the speech MLK utilized anaphora; emphasizing phrases by repeating them at the beginning of a sentence. His repetition of the words, “I have a dream” assisted him to relate the important issues he was raising with emotions and feelings that everyone could understand.  Through this device he was able to arouse emotion in his audience and give them hope.  Further emphasis is placed on this phrase when he adds the word “today”.  This statement was declared with great emphasis and placed importance on the concept that the things he dreamt of weren’t unrealizable aspirations; they were real issues that could be changed if people acted as they should.

  Along with the repetition of key phrases, MLK also employed parallelism.  He does this through encouraging the crowd “with this faith” “to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together.”  He wants the listeners to understand if they have faith, if they do things together and stand up as one, in the end they “will be free one day.”  The power of them all together is much greater than that of the individual. 


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