Metaphors In I Have A Dream Speech Essay Example

Metaphors In I Have A Dream Speech

Forty years ago, in the heart of this country's capital, an assembly formed near the Lincoln Memorial, a memorial to the author of the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared all slaves in the Confederacy "free forever". Just as Lincoln did in his time, another man raised during the time of the early sixties, to lead the Civil Rights Movement. The speech, I Have a Dream, given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was not long nor complex in fact it was simple, However, the truths that were said, the feelings that were provoked and the power of Dr. King's diction impacted those in the audience and will forever resonate throughout all generations of time to come. Throughout his speech Dr. King uses descriptive metaphors to help express the needed changes and goals for America in those early stages of the Equal Rights Movement.

To begin with, while the majority of the crowd was African-American there were other ethnic backgrounds present that day, for the message Dr. King gave was for all people. Dr. King addresses this diversified group in a manner that all would be able to understand even if they came from different backgrounds. Dr. King emphasizes the needed changes and goals for America in his persuasive speech. For example, when he states, "...we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt." He is using this descriptive metaphor to emphasize that they will no longer tolerate injustice. (King)

Furthermore, Dr. King's use of metaphors was an effective tool to speak to this large and diversified group, since it made the concept more easily understood by his audience....

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The purpose of this research is to identify some literary techniques (metaphor, symbol, analogy) in the famous speech by Martin Luther King “I have a dream”. In this speech King tells about discrimination and racial injustice in American society. King uses literacy techniques to emphasize the important ideas of the speech, to make an accent on the important places, and to explain some difficult thought and concepts. All literary techniques in the speech are closely connected. They increase the emotional influence of the speech as well. Hereafter some literary techniques are quoted and explained.
Symbol is very important literary technique in King’s speech. The main symbol in the text is a dream. Definition form a textbook tells: “Something concrete, such as an object, person, place, or event that stands for or represents something abstract, such as an idea, quality, concept, or condition” (Hirschberg 816). In the speech concrete event (dream) represents abstract image of the life in America as well as American society. The first part of the speech describes the bad dream, the “nightmare”: life in America full of racial discrimination, segregation, and injustice. The dull picture of contemporary life is replaced with bright future. The second half of speech describes the sweet dream about the country where the life is based on racial integration and harmony. It is possible to say that symbol of dream is the most important, the key technique in this speech, because the whole text is constructed on the contradiction of bad and good dream. The phrase “I have a dream” is repeated for several times in the text, it emphasizes the power of this symbol. Contradiction of dream and nightmare helps King to highlight the difference between current situation and future and express his aims and wishes. This dream presents a vision everyone could buy into. In this way King develops the theme of racial (and total) equality importance. The symbol of dream is also supported with other literary techniques, for example, metaphors.
Martin Luther King was known as a brilliant orator. His speech was always full of metaphors: metaphors helped to increase the emotional side of the text and to make a stress on the important ideas. Metaphors in “I have a dream” support the main idea and resonate with symbol of dream. Metaphor is “a figure of speech that implies comparison between two fundamentally different things without the use of “Like” or “as”. It works by ascribing the qualities of one to the other, linking different meanings together, such as abstract and concrete, and literal and figurative”(Hirschberg 813). The first part of the speech contains the sentence with two metaphors related to light and warmness. “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”. The first metaphor, “beacon light of hope”, follows after “as”, but can be considered as metaphor because it ascribes the quality of light (to enlighten) to the event (a decree). The second metaphor, “flames of withering justice” support the image of fire, warm and light, brought by the event mentioned in speech (Emancipation Proclamation.) Using these metaphors, King highlights the importance of emancipation proclamation, which can be considered as an important step to the future of King’s dream. Thus, King knowingly uses the metaphor in the text to create the desirable emotional effect. However, the description of King’s literary techniques would not be complete without the mentioning of analogies.
Analogy is also the important literary techniques in the speech. King uses it for better explanation of some ideas. For example, “We have, in a sense, come to the nation’s capital to cash a check.” Analogies are ” comparison[s] drawn between two basically different things that have some points in common, often used to explain more complex idea[s] in terms of […] simpler more familiar one[s]”(Hirschberg 811) King claims to review and analysis of American society, its rules, laws, and ideals using the analogy with basically different thing: cash check. In this way he compares money capital and capital of social values to explain the broad audience his idea. His analogy is important because King tried to make his speech clear for everyone. The idea of social values can be rather hard for understanding for some people. King simplifies is with quoted analogy. Thus, this analogy is not so important in the context of King’s speech: but it has significant practical value because it makes King’s idea clearer. At the end of the same paragraph King returns to this analogy: “America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” It this way he finalizes the idea of the paragraph: the necessity of changes in the mind of society. Besides, he supports his own analogy and creates the clear image of social values as the capital.
As it seen, Martin Luther King was a master of literary techniques. He uses different techniques in his speech, but there is no abundance if them. Every techniques takes the proper place and performs the special function.

December 18, 2014 |Free Essay Sample Papers|Tags: Martin Luther King

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