Martin Luther King's Speech - Book Report/Review Example

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Whether you are constructing an effective argument or baking a cake, you need to start with good ingredients. The ingredients that go into writing a solid argument are the rhetorical devices that the writer uses to convey imagery and emotion. These include the metaphors, euphemisms, and similes that bring the writing to life and give it an added dimension…
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Martin Luther Kings Speech
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I Have a Dream: Rhetorical Devices Whether you are constructing an effective argument or baking a cake, you need to start with good ingredients. Theingredients that go into writing a solid argument are the rhetorical devices that the writer uses to convey imagery and emotion. These include the metaphors, euphemisms, and similes that bring the writing to life and give it an added dimension. They can portray the grayest of statistics in a vibrant light that makes them leap from the page and become more memorable. Just as in a cake, bad ingredients can detract from its quality and weaken an otherwise good argument. Bias and fallacies can leave an argument defenseless against the opposing viewpoint. Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech is rich with rhetorical devices and nearly void of fallacies and bias.
The speech begins with King using a simile when he says the Emancipation Proclamation came as "a joyous daybreak". He employs a metaphor when he warns against seeking to "satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred". Simile is again used when he speaks of justice that "rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream". His use of similes and metaphors added power to his words. In a later paragraph he uses parallelism to invoke a sense of importance when he repeats the phrase "Now is not the time" to open three consecutive sentences. His closing statements that all begin with "Let freedom ring" again uses parallelism to highlight the importance of the message and makes the passage more memorable. .
While King's words gained power through his appropriate and effective use of rhetorical devices, they were not overly subjected to the distractions of false arguments or bias. He begins one paragraph with the statement that "It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro". This was an appeal to the emotions that is based in fear and is known as a scare tactic. In a later paragraph, King contends that the Alabama governor's lips are "dripping with the words of interposition and nullification". These are terms that are negatively associated with the Revolutionary and Civil wars and portrayed the governor in an unsubstantiated and biased political light.
Kings argument was that the Negro was living in "appalling conditions" and that "There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights". King used ample evidence concerning the condition of the African-Americans when he spoke of their inability to gain lodging in America's hotels, their future locked in the ghetto, and the denial of a meaningful right to vote. He further made his argument by setting the goal of letting freedom ring until all people joined hands and sang "Free at last". King's argument effectively stated the problem and offered a solution. He disarmed the opposition by calling for the struggle to take place "on the high plane of dignity and discipline". This nullified those that contended that the time was not right, that it would lead to violence, or that they did not trust the whites.
In conclusion, King's powerful message was given even more force by the use of rhetorical devices. Counter arguments were difficult to construct as his lack of bias and fallacy had already disarmed the opposing views. The fact that this speech was a major tipping point in the Civil Rights movement is a testimony to the effectiveness of good argumentative writing.
King, M.L. (1963). I have a dream. Address at March on Washington
August 28, 1963. Washington, D.C. Read More
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