Rhetorical Analysis of
Martin Luther King’s Speech “I Have a Dream”
Likita M. Taylor
English 1320: Composition I
November 12 2012
Rhetorical Analysis of Martin Luther King’s Speech
“I Have a Dream”
“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.” These are the opening words of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech”, which he predicted will be the foundation of the Civil Rights Movement and the turning point in finally ending segregation. Time and time again, his speech is credited as being “one of the most successful and most legendary speeches in United States ...view middle of the document...
He commanded respect; therefore making people more apt to take his side and accept his speeches as ultimate truths. He did this often by using several metaphors to describe the oppression that had overcome blacks and other minorities in the United States. He is seen as plausible because he delivered his speech astutely, by using heightened vocabulary. He also presented his speech in a logical and professional manner. He delivers his beliefs sincerely, further aiding his ethos appeal. Martin Luther King Jr. also utilizes ethos because as an American, he can relate to his audience.
King’s portrayal of logos was one technique that he made excellent usage of in his speech. In one example he stated, “When will you be satisfied? We will never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.” (Martin 2001, par 9). He goes on to give other extreme examples as to why “we can never be satisfied,” if we continue to be treated less than equals. In this valuable use of logos, he uses an example of “If…then” to convince his audience that change was needed in order to be satisfied of true freedom. In this excerpt passage of the speech, King emphasized that the “Negro must want more out of life and should not settle for being treated less than human, but must demand to be equal to his fellow man.