Martin Luther King and Literary Emotions: 'I Have a Dream' Analysis

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“I have a dream” is a phenomenal speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Junior that electrified America. This speech was delivered during the March of Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, at the steps of Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln Memorial was built to honor President Lincoln, who fought for the dignity and freedom of people by abolishing slavery. The speech was intended for both the white people and the black community. King urged his people not to distrust all the white people because not all were responsible for the racial injustices against blacks. Central to the speech's impact was Martin Luther King skillful use of emotions. This essay explores how in 'I Have a Dream' Dr. King employed emotions effectively in his speech to inspire, persuade, and galvanize the civil rights movement.

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Language of Emotions: How Does Martin Luther King Evolve 'I Have a Dream' Speech

The speech uses an optimistic and determined tone to make the audience believe that the evils of racial injustices will end. Throughout his speech, King is determined to liberate his people from slavery and restore their dignity and freedom. He employs words such as now, I have a dream, promise, beacon of light, and liberty to show there is hope for liberating the people of color. Even though the black community continues to face adversities, King has a dream that the nation will one day rise.

The purpose of the speech is to open the eyes of the American people to the evils of racial discrimination in society and to advocate for equality of all races. Importantly, it exposes the weakness of America in failing to keep its promises particularly the Declaration of Independence. King argues passionately that all people were made equal. For that reason, he is demanding for integration and racial justice for the Black community. He argues that the time is now to lift the nation from the roots of racial injustice and embrace brotherhood by making justice a reality for all the children of God.

King’s language is charged with emotions to appeal to the audience on the historical racial injustices and inequality plaguing America. Dr. King evoked a profound sense of empathy and compassion in his audience by masterfully weaving together vivid and poignant imagery. Through his carefully chosen words, he painted a vivid picture of the struggles and injustices faced by African Americans, appealing to the listeners' emotions and stirring a collective sense of outrage. By recounting the harsh realities of racial discrimination and segregation, he evoked empathy and generated a shared understanding of the urgent need for change. Also, Dr. King employed a range of rhetorical devices to elicit emotional responses and create a lasting impact. His use of repetition, such as the iconic phrase 'I have a dream,' created a rhythmic and melodic quality to his words, enhancing their resonance and emotional power. The repetition of key phrases and ideas reinforced the speech's central themes and fueled a sense of urgency and determination in the audience. Furthermore, Dr. King infused his speech with a strong sense of hope, inspiring optimism and galvanizing the collective spirit of the civil rights movement. His vision of a future where racial equality and justice prevailed resonated deeply with the listeners, fueling their aspirations and bolstering their resolve. Through his uplifting and passionate delivery, he tapped into the audience's emotions, instilling a belief in the transformative power of unity and nonviolent resistance.


In conclusion, 'I Have a Dream' is effective as a persuasion speech. As written in the essay, this speech by Martin Luther King utilizes a determined tone and emotional appeal. Essentially, the speech employs emotions to push the audience to demand change and end the racial injustices against people of color. Besides, the determined language assures the audience that there is hope. Finally, his speech has a call to action showing the sense of urgency of liberating the people of color. The time to lift the nations from the chains of racial injustices is “now”.

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