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I Have a Dream - Critical Rhetorical Analysis - Essay Example

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I Have a Dream - Critical Rhetorical Analysis

The speech was part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the speech refers to these themes time and again. The march was designed to put greater pressure on the Kennedy administration in order to advance civil rights legislation within Congress. (Carson) Evidence suggests that the President was worried that if a large crowd did not appear for the march then the civil rights drive in Congress might be affected negatively. There was a dire need to bring in large numbers to prove the unequivocal support for the civil rights movement. The organisers of the march were able to attract large numbers but this presented unique challenges. There were chances that the march might turn into a violent mob based demonstration. Dr. King dealt with this possibility in his speech by persuading the audience that freedom was around the corner and that violence was not going to get them anywhere. Subsequent events proved the efficacy of King’s words. The real contention behind the speech was a collective desire to surmount racial injustice and to integrate society on a commonly shared identity. The Black Civil Rights Movement had sparked off a few years ago. Momentum had been building and some of the momentum had turned to violence. Scores of mistreated African Americans were learning to organise themselves into an effective political instrument. Protests to this effect were increasing and bore testimony to the increasing political coherence of the African American community. King and other visionary leaders such as JFK knew that the country was fast becoming a powder keg. There was a dire need to vent the building pressure of social hate and injustice. This was only possible if legislation to this effect ensured the rights of all American citizens as equal. This speech was effectively aimed at encouraging further positive action on the part of African Americans to pressurise the legislators for legislation and to ensure that violence did not mar the face of the movement. Notably, Martin Luther King employed his skills as a Baptist minister and his intellect as a history aficionado to deliver multiple messages effectively. Rhetorical Devices Employed in “I Have A Dream” Martin Luther King’s speech is distinct because of the various rhetorical devices it utilises. Most of the rhetorical devices used in this speech are well balanced and connected to each other. The more notable rhetorical techniques utilised to create this speech are: phrases have been emphasized through repetition at the start of sentences; specific key words have been repeated throughout the speech; appropriate quotations and allusions are utilised; concrete examples are presented in order to back up arguments; metaphors have been utilised to highlight contrasting concepts. These major techniques are briefly discussed below to analyse the speech within rhetorical perspectives. Anaphora Anaphora refers to the repetition of words at the start of neighbouring clauses and is one of the commonest rhetorical devices used. The repetition of words tends to create a discernable pattern for the audience. In effect the audience can connect better to the spoken words because of the certain predictability offered by repeating words. ...Show more


I Have a Dream – Critical Rhetorical Analysis Rhetoric ensures effective communication especially with large audiences. It has grown through the ages to develop into a complete art. The twentieth century too saw an unprecedented growth in rhetoric. Perhaps the best demonstration of rhetoric comes about in the “I have a dream” speech delivered by Martin Luther King in 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial…
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I Have a Dream - Critical Rhetorical Analysis essay example
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