Oratory Analysis of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream”: Essay

Sample Essay

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Dr. King is famous for his speeches whether delivered from the pulpit or on the steps of a famous monument.  On August 28, 1963, on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., Dr. King gave his most famous speech, “I Have a Dream.”  He gave an emotional speech to the African-American population suggesting peaceful resolutions rather than violence and presented to his fellow African-Americans, and Americans of all races, the inequality of the African-American life versus that of the Caucasian that claimed a majority.  Dr. King pointed out the injustices and demanded equality using emotional appeal as well as logical and ethical appeal.  He used outside authorities and quoted works of literature, though slightly altered, in his speech.  A large part of Martin Luther King Jr.’s success as an orator was due to his uses of rhetoric in his speeches.

By using sympathetic emotion and offering a peaceful solution to end discrimination, listeners and onlookers of the famous speech were touched by the leader’s urge for equality.  By carefully choosing a problem/solution structure type and emotional rhetorical appeals, King successfully impacted his audience by tapping into their mindset.  King preached friendship between all races and believed that someday peace would be achieved.  He spoke of harmony between blacks and whites specifically and advocated to end racial violence.  In his emotional appeal, King emphasized the need to put out the “flames of withering injustice” that African-Americans were facing in America.  The use of this phrase is very strong and evocative bringing forward an extremely emotional feeling.  King told people to keep fighting and not to give up the hope that someday they will “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  This is another appeal to the emotions: the emotion of hope.

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