Mlk's Use of Rhetorical Appeals

Topics: Rhetoric, African American, United States Pages: 2 (514 words) Published: February 19, 2013
“I Have a Dream” Speech Analysis
Martin Luther King Jr.’s, “I Have a Dream” speech is noted as one of the greatest speeches of all time. This is because of his use of rhetorical appeals and rhetorical devices. His use of ethos, the use of credibility or believability, is used when he says, “America has given the negro people a bad check which has come back marked insufficient funds.” MLK, being an African-American and not growing up in the best of households was able to relate to this, as it was a personal experience. King also uses a metaphor to compare the check with a Negroes freedom. MLK was a preacher and so when he says, “Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children.” He uses ethos as he talks about God’s children, and because he is a preacher himself it makes him credible to relate to God and religion.

Another rhetorical appeal he uses is pathos, the use of emotions and feelings to appeal to the audience. When he says, ”we can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities”, he is relating to an experience that he has seen others go through. He is trying to get the audience to feel for the African-Americans, who after working hard, because of the color of their skin cannot find a place to rest. When he says, “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls, and walk together as sisters and brothers”, he uses emotions to try and get the audience to want that dream to become reality. He also uses parallelism because they have the same sentence structure on opposite sides of the conjunction.

Finally, he uses logos which is the appeal to the audience using logic or reasoning. MLK does so when he says, ”that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” He...
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