I Have a Dream” is a public speech delivered by Martin Luther King, a prominent figure in American History, in which he calls for racial equality. Throughout his speech, Martin Luther King inspires and motivates his audience to create a social movement for the betterment of the standards of living for black people in America. The transcript deals with the themes of equality and freedom by using a variety of literary techniques.Social exclusion of the “Negro”, according to Martin Luther King, is holding back America from truly being “great”. He encourages those who are fighting for equality and freedom from the constraints of society to continue their struggle for the betterment of the entire black society. He seems to say that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, but it must be demanded by the oppressed. The theme of undying hope is also discussed as Martin Luther King encourages his viewers to be persistent in whatever they do.
Direct addressal of the reader helps the orator to emotionally connect with the reader to have a greater impact on the audience. The speech begins with direct addressal of the reader to provide emotional connection and thereby enhance the motivational effect of the speech. The possessive pronoun “my” in the noun phrase “my friends” unites Martin Luther King with his audience and so has the ability to strengthen the impact of his inspirational speech.The theme of hope is discussed through repetition of adverbs. The adverb “still” in the simple declarative sentence “I still have a dream” is used to motivate the audience and tell them there still is hope and that change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but it comes through continuous struggle. The abstract noun “dream” is repeated to symbolize undying hope and belief. Dreams connote fantasies, true emotions and desires and so in this context they are able to connote a spirit of enduring optimism.
Martin Luther King’s dreams are “deeply rooted in the American dream” showing how he hopes for his dream of equality to be integrated into the American dream.The theme of dreams is one that is discussed continuously to emphasize the idea that social segregation is the one thing that is stopping America from truly being “great”. There is a parallel structure for eight consecutive paragraphs which emphasize the key points of Martin Luther Kings’ story and builds up the rhetorical effect. The anaphora “I have a dream” reinforces his ideas and makes the speech more persuasive and inspirational as it connects with the audience. The repeated noun phrase “one day” shows how Martin Luther King has self-belief in his dreams which is inspirational as it indirectly tells the audience to never give up.
The dynamic-verb phrase “rise up and live out” symbolizes a dream becoming a reality. The repetitive use of the possessive pronoun “we” reinforces his dream of unity as he directly involves his audience.The idea of unity is further developed by involving the men and women of different states.
Martin Luther King uses patterning to juxtapose the rich with the poor in the subordinate clause “sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners”. He believes that both parties can live in unison and lead much better lives and contribute to America’s progress. The metaphor “table of brotherhood” symbolizes harmony, agreement and acceptance for Martin Luther King believes that one should not be judged by the colour of his skin, but by the quality of his character. The abstract noun “brotherhood” signifies a point where skin colour, religion, nationality and ethnicity have been disregarded.The theme of perseverance is shown by the way Martin Luther King repeatedly uses adverbs to reinforce his points.
He challenges the ethos of white Americans who neglect and discriminate against other humans. The reiteration of the adverb “even” clearly depicts how firstly he wants equality and everyone to be considered equal and secondly how he believes that if we were to collaborate to eradicate this disease of discrimination, dreams of betterment of society can become realities. Martin Luther King believes in this idea of persistence and perseverance so much that he relates his speech to a corrupt and bias state – Mississippi, a “desert state sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression”.The dynamic verb “sweltering” connotes a very negative situation that people have reached in terms of their attitudes, assumptions and values. The metaphor “heat of injustice and oppression” injects pathos into the current behaviour of humans and makes the speech more inspirational as it pushes for changes in social norms and expectations. The noun “transformation” has positive connotations and represents an “oasis of freedom and justice” that is just around the corner if people fight for their rights.
The abstract noun “oasis” symbolizes a new beginning – a pleasant change, or rather, development..The involvement of various stakeholders creates a stronger emotional impact. The involvement of “little children” as a group of people who are discriminated has a strong emotional impact as it truly reflects how innocent people are being mistreated. The most basic of human rights is stolen from them. The premodifier “little” shows innocence and so this example is used to open the eyes of the prejudice to the fact that no one man is of more value than another.