Metaphoric Criticism of

Topics: Rhetoric, Martin Luther King, Jr., African American Pages: 10 (4025 words) Published: December 16, 2006
One of the most memorable and prolific speeches of the twentieth century was delivered on August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in our nation's capital. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of a dream in which the social norms at the time would shed away and life would take the form of the America originally envisioned by its founding fathers. It was this speech that portrayed the struggles of African Americans and the struggles of America as well. Furthermore, "I Have A Dream" expresses the need for the social acceptance and equality for not only African Americans, but also people of all gender, race, and religion. Nevertheless, in criticizing this speech, the model for criticism must be appropriate; therefore, in choosing a model for this criticism, I decided that metaphoric criticism works best because of the vast views available in its approach. In "I Have A Dream", Dr. King applies many devices to chronicle the advances and treatment of a people. Through these methods, we see an ordering of events constructed to present a view of the world according to not only him, but to millions of American as well. In addition, this perspective of the world is bolstered by events that were definitive to the way of life, prior to its more visible changing in the latter part of the 1960's. However, Dr. King uses many more techniques ultimately leading to the question this criticism will ask: "Which techniques employed by King are intrinsic to the conceptualization of both the likelihood of his dream coming true and to the comprehension of his dream by the American public?" One of the obvious techniques that King uses is his use of rhetorical devices. Throughout the speech we see a consistent pulse of them illustrating (1) the bitter truths of reality and (2) Dr, King's optimistic visions for society. While these devices are prevalent within the speech, they are not the only contributing factors to its success. Dr. King's vivid images play a vital role in the formulation of his petition for equality; furthermore, his delivery, and the common ground he shares with those he speaks to, adds fuel to fire the flames of his ingenious rhetoric. Nevertheless, the "I Have A Dream" speech challenged the conventional face of our society, which was fixed in a hypocritical persona of the principles our nation was founded on. King focused on illustrating a society that needed a transformation from what it was-- a nation jangling with discord-- to what it needed to be-- a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. This speech addressed those factors, and in turn became a catalyst in revolutionizing the state of the country. However, to answer this question, we must look in several directions. In this period, where race relations reflected repetitious and redundant recourse, many Americans banded together to build common bonds and bolster relationships that were necessary to see the light at the end of the tunnel; therefore, the first direction that will be approached is that of a view of life and experiences equally shared by Dr. King and those who listened to this speech. Although this portion of the criticism cannot be attained by simply reading this speech, we know that King's establishment of common ground was an unseen, yet significant, factor within the speech itself. It was his prior experiences that lead to that understanding of common interest and a shared bond by the public. This knowledge provided a means for great support. We see this when we view the pictures of the congested front of the Lincoln Memorial as King delivered his speech. Furthermore, it is known that Dr. King was not only a talker; he was a doer. If he suggested a boycott, then he participated in it. These actions not only indicated his desire to do his all for change, but it also suggested that he placed himself on the same level of every black person, despite the special treatment his reputation and identity may have privileged him to....
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