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Speech analysis „I have a dream“ MLK

30.10.2021

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Speech analysis - „I have a dream"
22th April 2021
In the extract of the political speech ,,I have a dream", given on 28 August 1963 in Wash
Speech analysis - „I have a dream"
22th April 2021
In the extract of the political speech ,,I have a dream", given on 28 August 1963 in Wash

Speech analysis - „I have a dream" 22th April 2021 In the extract of the political speech ,,I have a dream", given on 28 August 1963 in Washington, DC, the civil rights activist Martin Luther King addresses his vision of the future, hoping that there will ever be a time when black and white people will be equal in the USA. In the first section of the excerpt, Martin L. King points out the equality of all people by referring to the Declaration of Independence. He speaks about a future in which there are no more differences between black and white people, but where these two live together in peace and harmony. King talks about the problems of discrimination and racism in the USA and mentions several states, for instance Georgia and Mississippi, but also says he does not give up hope even though the current situation is bad. Instead, Mr. King demands equality, justice and freedom for the nation. Moreover, he comments on the current governour of Alabama and says he will go back to the south with faith. Taking a closer look at the excerpt of the speech, Martin Luther King used a variety of stylistic devices. First of all, he integrates the audience into his speech in order to create a feeling...

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of unity, which he reaches by quoting the most fundamental document of the USA, the Declaration of Independence (1.2f. "We hold these truths [...]"). At the same time, King personifies the nation and expresses his hope that the people of the United States will someday live after the Declaration, which emphasizes that all men are created equal" (1.3). Furthermore, he repeatedly uses the phrase "I have a dream", which emphasizes his belief in achieving his aim and underlines he has not given up hope yet (I. 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 14, 19, 20). Due to the repetitive rhythm, these repetitions and anaphoras catch the listeners attention. To go on with, Martin Luther King uses a lot of parallelisms when he speaks about black and white people. Proof of this can be found in lines 4-6 when he "dreams" that "the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood". In this speech, parallelisms like this are intending to demonstrate the people themselves have much in common. Additionally, the "table of brotherhood" (1.6) Mr. King mentions is a metaphor for a peaceful and friendly relationship between blacks and whites that creates a vivid mental image of how this relationship could be. The next two lines contain a very important message which is expressed by a personification, two metaphors and an antithesis. Therein, Mr. King criticizes the terrible conditions for black people in the US state of Mississippi when he describes it as "a state sweltering with the heat of oppression" (II 7f.). It metaphorically compares Mississippi to hell and therefore clearly indicates that if there will be no change soon, black people will have to go on suffering there. On the other hand, he still believes someday this hell might turn into "an oasis of freedom and justice", which is a metaphor for equality of blacks and whites in rights and law (I. 9). Altogether, this heat and oasis build an antithesis to emphasize the difference between the current reality and the reality Martin Luther King dreams of. Thereafter, as he talks about Alabama, he uses another metaphor in order to criticize the governours passive behaviour against the racism in his state. In his opinion, the governour just speaks with "words of interposition and nullification", which means he talks a lot but does not do anything (1.16). In the following lines, Mr. King repeats the aspect of brotherhood and equality between black and white people by using another parallelism (1.17/18). Next, there is a parallelism including a climax, symbols and a metaphor (II.20ff). In this connection, the symbols "valley", "hill" and "mountain", which stand for the rights of the blacks (valley) and those of the whites (hill and mountain) and visualize the rift between them, form the climax. This rift shall perish (cf. 1.22: "made low"). Moreover, Martin Luther King mentions the "glory of the lord" which will lead to a union of "all flesh" (11.22f). Here, the religious metaphor means the end of all conflicts between black and white people, which are symbolized by the flesh. All in all we can say that the speech is full of impressive stylistic devices that make the listeners visualize the issues and hopes Martin Luther King addresses. The speech is to this day one of his most famous ones. By describing a hopeful future for the United States, Martin Luther King encourages the listeners and himself to keep working for his dream of equality which he and other black people living in the USA desire.