I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King Jr

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King

This is an old speech from the pre-2009 syllabus for Advanced Module B: Critical Study of Texts – Speeches. Now it is part of Standard Module A: Experience Through Language – Distinctive Voices.

This is a very easy speech to analyse. It is filled with metaphors and repetition (practically in every paragraph).

Speaker

  • Martin Luther King, Jr was a Baptist minister and major civil rights activist in the African American civil rights movement.
  • He advocated passive resistance and peaceful protest.

Audience

  • Crowd of 200,000 people at a Civil Rights march.

Context

  • 1960s: African American civil rights movement – heavy segregation between black and white people, which was enshrined in law and custom in America

Techniques by Paragraph

I’ll simply go paragraph by paragraph. The paragraphs are as they are on the PDF of English Prescriptions: Standard Speeches on the BOS website.

I won’t do your analysis for you, but here is a general guideline:

  1. Identify where the listed techniques are in the speech.
  2. Explain their effect/purpose.

Para 1:

  • Historial allusions
  • Alliteration
  • Emotive language
  • Metaphors

Para 2:

  • Conjunction
  • Repetition
  • Imperative tone
  • High modality
  • Metaphors
  • Emotive language
  • Symbol

Para 3:

  • Inclusive pronouns
  • Historial allusions
  • Emotive language
  • Extended metaphor (para 3-4)

Para 4:

  • Authoritative tone
  • Extended metaphor (para 3-4)
  • Repetition
  • Metaphors
  • Urgent tone
  • Religious reference

Para 5:

  • Hyperbole
  • Metaphors
  • Colloquialism

Para 6:

  • Metaphors
  • Biblical allusion

Para 7:

  • Repetition and imperative tone
  • Parallelism (repeating sentence structure)
  • Diction of “brother”
  • Short sentence ending
  • Symbolism

Para 8:

  • Rhetorical question
  • Repetition
  • Conversational
  • Simile

Para 9:

  • Direct address
  • Alliteration
  • Metaphors

Para 10:

  • Repetition
  • Metaphor

Para 11:

  • Address of “my friends”
  • Allusion to the American Dream
  • Diction of “dream”

Para 12:

  • Quote/epithet
  • Repetition (para 12 – 19)

Para 13:

  • Diction of “slave”
  • Metaphor

Para 14:

  • Metaphor

Para 15:

  • Personal reference to “my four children”
  • Antithesis

Para 17:

  • Metaphor
  • Diction of “little black boys and black girls” and “sisters and brothers”

Para 19:

  • Rhetorical style of sermon

Para 20:

  • Religious tone  in “hope” and “faith”
  • Metaphor
  • Repetition

Para 21:

  • Religious reference
  • Quotation

Para 22 – 28

  • Exclamation
  • Repetition
  • Topographic imagery
  • Religious references

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