Example Of Essay On Rhetorical Analysis Of Martin Luther King’s Speech – I Have A Dream

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Martin Luther King, Rhetoric, Speech, Community, America, People, White, African American

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/10/30


Martin Luther King Jr. was a humanitarian and the leader of African-American Civil Rights movement, who believed in equality of African-Americans and worked to eliminate the racial discrimination between black people and white people. Born in the year 1929, King was a civil rights activist renowned for his achievements in civil rights of the Black Americans (King III, p.n.d). The American Pastor was a religious mentor, who believed in equality and protested against the discriminatory activities in a non-violent fashion. King protested, portraying his beliefs, and resorted to civil disobedience as method of transmitting his message. Assassinated at the age of 39, King died on April 04, 1968. Martin Luther King is famous for his speech “I Have a Dream” on his march to Washington in the year 1963 (King III, p.n.d). The speech aimed at four different types of classes and had different messages for each of them. It contained a message for each class of people embedding the pathos, ethos, and logos to provoke the people towards accepting change in a non-violent manner. The essay offers a rhetorical analysis of the Martin Luther King’s speech. It is going to investigate and discuss those revolutionary ways, it affected Black Americans. Moreover, the paper relays the important messages delivered by King that supported anti-discriminatory activities and the movement for equality of human rights.


King’s speech was directed to the attention of African American, as well as white American citizens. It brought a simple message to accept changes with the use of violence. The speech summed up various personal experiences as well as personal thoughts of the author. According to King, “Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them” (Bobbitt, p.n.d). This statement means that the black community is facing severe stereotyping that represents them as a low class community worthy of being slaves and the people happily accept the statement.
King presented the community that underwent hardships and challenges by the society with a ray of hope and scope for future. According to his speech, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” (Bobbitt, p.n.d). This means that King wished the future humankind to accept the differences in race and ethnicity as well as eliminate all sorts of discrimination based on race belonging and skin color. The author wished for a society in which, the people underwent fair treatment, to become free from biases and discrimination (Vail, pp. 51 – 78). King stated the messages for four types of classes, which the essay is going to discuss.

Audience type # 1: African-Americans

The first class that King targeted in the speech was the African-American community that faced discrimination. The Black Americans faced extensive violation and deprivation of their rights and freedoms. The Black community had no voting rights as well as faced various challenges in obtaining employment (Vail, pp. 51 – 78). Moreover, the people were paid with lower wages than compared to the white community. King’s speech offered the people hope for future and asked them to withstand the racial disparities with calm and non-violent measures.

Three Examples of Ethos:

Three Examples of Pathos:
First of all, the style of presentation is primarily dictated by the refusal of the author from the standard political slogans and calling for such a personal story of his dream. Secondly, it is clear that the speech was well prepared. The statement "I have a dream" of Martin Luther King was conscious and very serious. During the presentation, the author occasionally used his recordings, which helped him to make a great emotional speech without faltering. And, finally, his voice sounded so naturally and confidently, that this confidence was instantly transmitted to his audience. Metaphors made King’s thesis clearer, brighter, and were able to truly give the elements of the emotional nuances of this dream, brought them to the depths of the mind and hearts of the listeners. A crucial role in this speech played rhythm and logical pauses. They allocated every phrase of speech and each complete thought. The main tempo of speech was smooth, with a gradual trend to accelerate, enhance the emotional component, which warmed up the crowd of listeners, ripping off the loud applause and cries approval.

Three Examples of Logos:

The speech was logically well thought and prepared. King used references to the Old and New Testament, United States Declaration of Independence, a manifesto on freeing the slaves and the Constitution of the United States. The author deliberately used quotes from those sources, which were recognized among his supporters and opponents. Addressing those documents increased the chances to influence on listeners. Pay attention to the fact that he is coming back to certain points of the speech. There are repeated appeals to his comrades from Colorado, Mississippi, Alabama, which coincided with the ideas already mentioned previously. Author returned to these thoughts and supported in such way the key elements of King's things. The concept of the speech was constructed so that Martin Luther King was sharing his dream with his friends. However, the presentation of the speech does not diminish the force of the impact of its theses to the audience, because King is not just reciting, calling to mind, and touches on the feelings of students in their heads, their ideas, their dream. And that dream becomes common, and people are beginning to believe in it. In addition, Martin Luther King Jr. addressed his performance not only the audience gathered at the Lincoln Memorial, but the leadership of the country, the most important decision makers. This fact is dictated by the specific logical structure of theses in his speech.

Audience type # 2: White-Americans

The second target group for King’s speech was the white-Americans that showed hate and racial discrimination against the Black community. The white people believed that African-Americans are slaves for them and need to be treated the same way. The white community found it difficult to balance the roles between whites and blacks and felt that they are superior to the Black community in every manner (Vail, pp. 51 – 78). This aggravated the situation and fueled the hatred towards the Black community. King wished for the white community to adapt to changes and accept the Black people with love and affection as well as offer them equal rights.

Audience type # 3: Militant African-Americans

The fourth group targeted by King was the militant African-American group. The militants were the group of people that become hostile towards racial discrimination and inequality in the society. The militant group retaliated to the stereotyping against the Black community and the discriminatory activities that took place (Vail, pp. 51 – 78). King aimed to reach out to the militant group and advised them to stop with the retaliation using violence. King further stated the need to protest in the non-violent manner to minimize the damage to the society.

Audience type # 4: White-Americans who believed the Black Community is Hostile

The last target group in King’s speech was the white-Americans who believed that the Black community and the civil rights movements was an act of defiance as well as aggressive against the white community (Vail, pp. 51 – 78). King intended to pass out the message and explain the importance of equality in the nation as well as the intention to remain non-violent during the protests.


Conclusively, it is easy to determine that Martin Luther King Jr. was an influential personality and one of the pioneers behind the civil reformation. King’s speech helped various communities to understand the effects of racial discrimination and enabled people to overcome it. King’s efforts helped the Black community of America to gain equality as well as voting rights.

Works Cited

Bobbitt, D. The Rhetoric of Redemption: Kenneth Burke's Redemption Drama and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s' I Have a Dream Speech. Rowman & Littlefield, 2007.
King III, M. L. The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. Newmarket Press, 2008.
Vail, M. The Integrative Rhetoric of Martin Luther King Jr.'s" I Have a Dream" Speech." Rhetoric & Public Affairs 9.1 (2006): 51-78.

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WePapers. (2020, October, 30) Example Of Essay On Rhetorical Analysis Of Martin Luther King’s Speech – I Have A Dream. Retrieved March 02, 2024, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/example-of-essay-on-rhetorical-analysis-of-martin-luther-kings-speech-i-have-a-dream/
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