I Have a Dream Analysis

Topics: Martin Luther King, Jr., Rhetoric, United States Pages: 4 (1014 words) Published: February 5, 2012


Rhetorical Analysis of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” Ted Wilkenfeld Professor Moriarty Composition 0990 April 21, 2011



Abstract This paper presents an analysis of the “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King. The author covers King’s use of support, ornamentation/embellishment, and other rhetorical techniques. Further, the author is quick to contextualize the nature of King’s speech.

RHETORICAL ANALYSIS Rhetorical Analysis of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” The “I Have a Dream” speech has a very simple context. The author of the “I Have A Dream” speech is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King is known for his work in Civil Rights during the 1960s. The purpose of this speech is to inspire change in both white and black citizens of the United States during the Civil Rights era. Moreover, the premise of the speech is that both sides of the discussion must accept change in a non-violent yet effective way. Finally, the audience of the speech is very general; however, one should note that since the speech is given in Washington, it is possible that the speech attempts to engage law makers and policy makers who work and live within the nation’s capital. The genre of this work is somewhat narrative and argumentative. The speech conveys many personal thoughts and experiences of the author; however, there is a strong position taken against the crimes of “white” citizens and the nation as a whole. While there is no explicit claim present, there are the foundation points which make the argumentative position of the author very clear and visible. The style of the speech is very formal with some hints of informality. The diction or word choice is comparable to other political speeches such as John F. Kennedy’s “Inaugural Address.” Yet, throughout the “I Have a Dream” speech, one may find a bit of black gospel within it. The images and the ornaments are heavily religious, reminiscent of...

References: King, M.L. (2010). I have a dream. In J. Aaron (Ed.), 40 model essays: a portable anthology (pp.341-347). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
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