“I Have a Dream” Metaphorical Analysis
In “I have a Dream”, King uses metaphors as a common device to convey the main issues of justice, freedom, and equality that were prevalent during the civil rights movement. King uses descriptive imagery in his metaphors so the audience can empathize with the American Negro community.
Life as a black person during the nineteen-fifties was horrendous, “The Negro [lived] on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity”. Martin Luther King uses this metaphor to help the audience grasp the concept of how different life was for a Negro. He then addresses the Negros in the audience who “have come from areas where [their] quest for freedom left [them] battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality”. The words ‘battered’ and ‘staggered’ refer to temporary states of time, which can be readjusted when the effort is put in. King is using this metaphor to convince the Negros they will get through the persecution if they push through and don’t remain content. He dreams that one day even a state with “vicious racists… with his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification” will one day know how to live in community with all people. Martin Luther uses descriptive diction like “dripping with words of interposition and nullification” to bring the metaphor back full circle, explaining how Alabama’s government did not enforce United States laws involving desegregation and opposed any belief for equality. King uses this specific diction to appeal to the pathos, in turn making his speech even more effective in relating with his fellow Negros.
Realizing his speech was only as effective as the final result, King emphasized that they must “not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream”. He inputs this metaphor to stress the importance of never giving up. In doing so “one day every...