In his world-renowned speech, “I Have A Dream,” Martin Luther King Jr. describes his reflection of present-day America and his hopes of the future by dramatizing the disgraceful situation in which America is consumed. In 1963, when this speech was being given to the 200, 000 demonstrators that crowded Washington, D.C., racism was very high, despite the Emancipation Proclamation that had been signed one hundred years earlier. His essay was a major milestone in American history and serves as a cornerstone to the beginning of equality in America. King’s proposal to the American people of the 1960’s is one of many strong rhetorical strategies used, defined and well rounded by the frequent use of imagery and comparing and contrasting past, present, and future America.
Even today, King’s speech, although originally aimed at demonstrators during the equal rights movement, affects American beliefs about and attitudes toward an equal society: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” His persuasive argument is saturated with dramatic words and optimism and provides enthusiasm and inspiration in hopes to repair the wrongdoings of the nation for the future.
In order to enhance people’s views on the political struggles of the nation, King uses imagery in his work to provide his audience with a more vivid impression: “This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.” He manipulates his words in order to influence people’s views on the topic at hand. His attitude towards the persecution and discrimination of African Americans across the nation is clearly seen through his expressions in this essay: “Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality.” If this passage had been written any less dramatically, its effect on his audience would certainly not have been as meaningful.
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