Martin Luther King - I Have a Dream Analysis

Topics: United States, African American, Discourse analysis Pages: 8 (2773 words) Published: November 25, 2012
Topic Choice:

The topic choice ‘I have a dream’ was chosen after a lot of soul searching. It reveals the speaker’s previous experiences growing up and living in a segregated society. He only dreamt of being treated as an equal citizen, not based on the colour of his skin and ethnic background. This topic was directed at millions of African Americans suffering from extreme poverty as a result of being denied opportunities in their own country. The topic resonated with everyone in the crowd on that day and would be repeated several times in the speech. The majority of the people taking part in the march for freedom on that day only dreamt of being accorded the same opportunities and rights that their fellow white citizens enjoyed. ‘I have a dream’ was an excellent topic choice for the event and still remains synonymous with the struggle for freedom up to this day

Word Order:

In [1], the speaker acknowledges and thanks the audience for attending the historic march for freedom and equality, and he reminds them that that particular day would go down in history as the greatest for freedom in the United States of America. He takes them back five years ago and reminds them that despite all the joy and hope they felt when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Act, freedom was still far away. Nothing had changed among blacks, Hispanics and other visible ethnic minorities living in the United States: [1] “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This 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. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity”. Martin Luther King’s demeanor was calm and collected and waited for the words to sink in the audience’s mind before proceeding with the next part of the speech. The order of his words was well organized right from the start: [1] and [2] talks about the Emancipation Proclamation and its mirage sense of equality. [3], [4] and [5 is a reminder for the United States Government to apply the Emancipation Proclamation to all men black and white. [6] and [7] is a declaration that unless the situation was corrected by the government, revolutions and disturbances will continue. [8], [9] and [10] is a reminder to the audience of the importance of avoiding violence and to restore to peaceful and dignified protests. [11], [12], [13], [14], [15], [16], [17], [18] and [19] are all an inspirational talk that is the essence of the speech 'I have a dream'.

Stress, Intonation and Coherence:

The speaker stresses the importance of his message through his tone. This was not considered an ordinary message. This was supposed to be an extraordinary message from an extraordinary man at a crucial point in the history of African Americans in the United States of America. This was the only non violent weapon available to millions of disadvantaged people and the speaker knew the importance of this historic occasion. The speech had been written and revised several times until the Reverend Martin Luther King felt it was now ready to be delivered. Despite all the care, thought and effort put into drafting this speech, its message would be useless if it was not delivered in a coherent and logical manner. In [2] people are still reminded that the Negro is still not free. By invoking the word Negro, he really wanted to bring the message home to thousands of African Americans across America. The tone of his voice was authoritative, commanding as well as captivating the audience. He constantly reminded black people in America how they were living in dire poverty when in fact they were living in the richest country on earth. He was aware that his message would be broadcast in millions of homes across America and the world at large. There were applauses and cheering coming from the thousands of people standing in the crowd urging him to...
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