Martin Luther King Pathos and Ethos of Speech

Topics: Martin Luther King, Jr., African American, Lyndon B. Johnson Pages: 3 (895 words) Published: March 6, 2011
Dr. Martin Luther King Juniors use of Ethos & Pathos in his “I have a dream” speech.
On August 28, 1963, people around the nation tuned into hear several civil rights speeches going on in Washington. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of those civil rights speakers, and that day he gave his famous “I have a dream” speech. In Dr. Martin Luther King Juniors speech, he spoke about unifying the nation, to create a place where Americans “will not be judged by the color of your skin but by the content of your character.”(2) He shocked the nation into actions advising that they’re will be a “rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.”(1) Thankfully, many people in America were changed, and wanted to make a difference after hearing the speech. Through appeals to pathos, “a strategy in which a writer tries to generate specific emotions in an audience, to dispose it to accept a claim;” (1042) and appeals to ethos, which is “the self image a writer creates to define a relationship,” (1042) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was able to use his passion and character to help open American’s minds, and motivate them to make a nonviolent change towards equality. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a well known civil rights leader, a well educated African American doctor, preacher, and an articulate speaker. In arguments, “most writers try to establish an ethos that suggests authority and credibility.”(1042) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had already established credibility and shared values and did “not have to make an open claim to authority,” (59) as our text indicated. This allowed him to have many avenues with which to start his argument without the people having to check his credentials on the subjects he would be speaking about. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. starts off in his speech with an ethos appeal to his audience by speaking about the promises America has made to the black community in the Emancipation Proclamation. “Five score years ago, a great American, in...
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