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Rhetorical Analysis of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream"

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Trey Spaulding

on 9 October 2013

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Transcript of Rhetorical Analysis of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream"

Rhetorical Analysis of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech and Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address"
"I Have A Dream" Background
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963. Attended by some 250,000 people, it was the largest demonstration ever seen in the nation's capital, and one of the first to have extensive television coverage.
"I Have a Dream"
"The Gettysburg Address" background
"Gettysburg Address" Rhetorical Analysis
Dr.King uses the bible to receive an emotional reaction and connection from the audience as "The glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” This instills the belief that all people will stand together. Dr.King uses a number of metaphors throughout his speech, he refers a "check" in which the American people should cash which receives a great roaring reaction from the crowd. Dr.King is referring to the Emancipation Proclamation as a "Check" which was written to the american people that should be "cashed" or executed .
Dr.King also makes the point that he is a father that wants a better future for his children. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character.” This appeals to all the parents listening to the speech
By using examples from real life situations, the audience was able to relate to what Dr.King was saying Dr. King appealed to the values and beliefs of his audience by basically stating that America is not equal and that Negros should not be satisfied with the way they were treated at the time. Like in the quotes "The Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.”,“our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only."” and ,“a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.” This is what the audience had experienced themselves and this is how Dr. King drew their attention and applause.
As he delivered his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial he Lincoln in his speech, “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the emancipation proclamation.” Dr. King's use of what people thought and knew about Abraham Lincoln influenced his audience. Lincoln was a great president who empowered the American people throughout the civil war. He gained the trust of America and established a new sense of freedom. Martin Luther King is invoking the credibility.He also quotes, ‘“unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness”’ He is stating that the American government has broken its word to the American people.Dr.King is using his own credibility and reputation as an American citizen who was effected by the actions of the government.

Dr. King makes allusions to the Declaration of Independence by citing "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" and "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
He also uses a biblical allusion "I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted..." comes from Isaiah 40:4-5
He uses allusion by referring to Abraham Lincoln and how, “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation.”
Dr. King also refers to the emancipation proclamation as a "check" several times within the speech.
Rhetorical situation
Probably the most memorable quote in Dr.King's speech is "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." and this is an example of antithesis.
Dr.king also uses antithesis in the quotes "
Dr. King used anaphora throughout his speech to gain momentum with each line to erupt in cheers after a few repetitons. Some examples of Dr.king's use of anaphora includes the phrases "One hundred years later, the negro...""Now is the time...""I have a dream...""We must...""Some of you..."
"Let freedom ring..."
Ethos is the ethical appeal of a speech or passage. He used ethos in his speech when he wrote it because it was based on his personal morals and beliefs. He demonstrates this when he says "It is all together fitting and proper we should do this." Lincoln is speaking to the morals of his audience.
Logos is the logical appeal in a speech. In Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" he uses logos by showing his compassion for the men who died at Gettysburg.
Allusion is when there is a reference made to people, places, and events in history. In the Gettysburg Address he made references to the bible because he used biblical words and content through out his famous speech. An example of this is in the beginning of the speech when he begins with the words "four score."
Rhetorical Situation
Rhetorical Situation is a situation where peoples understanding can be changed through messages. In his speech Abraham Lincoln uses rhetorical situations to get his audience to see things from his point of view
Anaphora is the term used for the repetition of a word or phrase. An example of anaphora in The Gettysburg Address is the words "we can not" in the part that says, "We can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground."
Person delivering message: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Audience: supporters of Civil Rights movement
Purpose: To end racial bias that had continued for 100 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation
Pathos is the appeal to the audience's emotions. Lincoln uses this several times though out his speech. He used pathos in the speech when he referred to the ground and the men who had battled there. He was trying to help people understand that the war had to continue.
The speech gave by Abraham Lincoln was about the battle at Gettysburg. He gave this speech in 1863. It was dedicating that land to the soldiers that died in the battle of Gettysburg as a National Cemetery for them to be buried on.
Antithesis is when something is completely opposite of another. Abraham Lincoln used antithesis in his speech when he stated "As a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that the nation might live." This is an example of antithesis by using the terms the living and the dead.
Full transcript