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Martin Luther King Jr's use of ethos pathos and logos in his I have a dream speach - Essay Example

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His policy of non-violent action has a profound impact on social policies that sought to oppress African-Americans. His existence continues to be felt today in the…
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Martin Luther King Jrs use of ethos pathos and logos in his I have a dream speach
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Martin Luther King Jr's use of ethos pathos and logos in his I have a dream speach

In terms of rhetorical theory, ethos represents the implementation of ethics and morals as a rhetorical tool. One of King’s most powerful implementation of logos appears when he states, “One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination” (‘I Have a Dream Speech’). Here King is comparing the oppression of the modern African-American with the same oppression that was experienced during slavery. This is a powerful implementation of ethos as it implements societies understanding of the wrongness of slavery in demonstrating that similar events continue to occur.
Logos is understood as the rhetorical implementation of logic and reason as primary argumentative techniques. King’s speech makes great use of logos. One of the most powerful implementations of this occurs when King references the Declaration of Independence. He states, “It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned” (‘I Have a Dream Speech’). Of course, King is referencing the nature of the Declaration of Independence as proclaiming the unalienable rights of all citizens. The logical implication of such a reference is that in continuing to oppress African Americans, the United States is neglecting its very foundational elements. Ultimately, this is a highly effective use of logos.
Pathos is understood as the rhetorical appeal to emotions. Perhaps King’s appeal to emotions is the most powerful aspect of his speech. From the very beginning of the speech, King appeals to the enormity of the event to create emotional involvement and excitement. In these regards, he states that the speech “will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation” (‘I Have a Dream Speech’). Such large-scale pronouncements situate the speech in terms of power and ... Read More
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