A Critical Discourse Analysis of I Have a Dream Speech through the Semantic Use of Monetary Symbols to Reflect Injustice

Topics: Black people, Norman Fairclough, Critical discourse analysis Pages: 9 (1674 words) Published: May 3, 2015

A Critical Discourse Analysis of I Have a Dream Speech through the Semantic Use of Monetary Symbols to Reflect Injustice

This paper is a critical discourse analysis of I Have a Dream speech by Martin Luther King to show how he uses metaphors to reflect injustice. The paper aims first at giving a glimpse of the econo-, politico-, and socio- cultural background which triggered the speech. From there, I move on to studying the macro and micro layers of the speech and to how many parts is divided. The theoretical framework used in this paper is Fairclough’s theory of language and power. The methodology used in analyzing the speech is a semantic approach through the use of metaphors related to finance which reflects injustice in the U.S. politics. The paper concludes with a note whether the speech had impact on the perlocutionary. Keywords: critical discourse analysis, metaphor, injustice

A Critical Discourse Analysis of I Have a Dream Speech through the Semantic Use of Monetary Symbols to Reflect Injustice
I Have a Dream speech is described as one of the greatest speeches of all time. Some even go on further nominating it as the greatest speech of the 20th century. The speech was made in 1963 by reverend Martin Luther King. It came in a period of racial tension and political turmoil where blacks were discriminated against by the U.S. government. It was a time of segregation and high unemployment within the black community. Black people were victims of prejudice and discrimination. This speech came to position black men into the American society and to integrate them back into their own country which had alienated them. Martin Luther king was a great orator. He knew how to influence the public and the government alike by his skillful use of language. He was a mouthpiece of the underprivileged and underdog in attaining the rights of blacks and other underrepresented groups. This paper focuses on Martin Luther king’s use of metaphor to foreground the issue of injustice in the U.S. politics to see to what extent this speech impacted the U.S. politics and the black minority in the country. Literature Review

Many social and political events were at the forefront in the U.S. in the early sixties. The socio-political climate was changing in a fast step; from civil rights to the Vietnam War, and even rock and roll. But much of the socio-political movement came from the civil rights struggle in the south in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The civil rights movement dominated the first half of the 1960s, which met with widespread and often violent resistance in the South, with bombings of black churches, murders of civil rights workers, and police beatings of protesters. The failure of the Kennedy administration to do enough about the situation led to the march on Washington DC in August 1963, when Martin Luther King made his I Have a Dream speech. President Johnson subsequently signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“1960s,” 2014). Before delving into the analysis of that part of speech related to injustice, it’s noteworthy to allude to the other parts of the speech.

The speech is divided into four parts. Part I is historical which talks about the black man struggle in white America. Part II is ethnic which talks about the social class gap between whites and blacks. Part III is rejection which demands reforms and rights for the black man. The final and fourth part is freedom which talks about promising the black man a new status in a new America. Those were the parts of the speech which MLK tackled in his speech. Having mentioned that, it’s essential to state the theory and the method used in the analysis.

I will follow Fairclough analytical framework – a theory and a method. A theory which studies language in its relation to power, injustice, and ideology and method which shows how such a relation exists in the analysis. It’s a framework for people...

References: Fairclough, N. (1989).Language and power: the critical study of language. Essex: Longman Limited.
Fairclough, N. (1992). Discourse and social change. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Foucault, M. (1984). The order of discourse. In Shapiro, M. (ed.) Language and politics. Blackwell.
Griffiths, P. (2006). An introduction to English semantics and pragmatics. Edingurgh: Edingurgh University Press.
King, M.L.,Jr. (1963, August 28).[I Have a Dream]. Speech presented in Washington D.C. Retrieved from http://www.archives.gov/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf
Van Dijk, T. (1990). Discourse and Society: A New Journal for a New Research Focus.
1960s. (2014). From Wikipedia online encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1960s
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