“I have a Dream” Speech Tone: Dr. King’s Rhetorical Mastery

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“I have a Dream” Speech Tone: Dr. King’s Rhetorical Mastery

This essay will analyze the tone of Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, focusing on its rhetorical effectiveness in conveying a message of hope, unity, and demand for civil rights. It will dissect the speech’s language and delivery, examining how King’s use of vivid imagery, metaphor, and repetition contribute to its powerful and inspirational tone. The piece will also explore how the speech’s tone helped galvanize the civil rights movement, making a lasting impact on American society and beyond. By examining the nuances of King’s oratory skills, the essay will provide a deeper understanding of how tone can be a critical tool in persuasive communication and social change. You can also find more related free essay samples at PapersOwl about Human Rights.

Category:Human Rights
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“I Have a Dream”: An Overview

The components of communication are numerous. To communicate, the sender and the recipient must speak the same language. The communication must be concise and clear. The channel needs to be suitable for both the message and the recipient. I used Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech for my assignment. His speech was given on August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. It was said that the I Have a Dream speech was to educate the general population in America about the injustice of racial inequity and urge them to stop discriminating against people based on their color.

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Dr. King’s Speech Tone and Rhetorical Devices

When Dr. King delivered the speech, it was in many forms of style. He used the style called Allusions and different figurative language such as hyperbole, analogy, metaphors, similes, and symbolism. Some examples of hyperbole that he used were, “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight,” and “I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice,” are both hyperboles.

An example of an analogy used was Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, ‘I Have a Dream,’ which utilizes an analogy of a bad check to demonstrate how the US Constitution has failed to fulfill the promises made to the black population in paragraphs 3 and 4. An example of a metaphor used in the speech was when Dr. King urged the audience to think about freedom and equity despite racial disparities by using the metaphor of brotherhood. He also used a simile in his speech when he said, “Justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” The last figurative language I picked up was that he also used symbolism; he mentioned how heat symbolizes the stifling and intolerable nature of racism.

During Dr. King’s speech, the people were cheering, smiling, laughing, and even repeating some phrases with him. They held signs, they clapped, whistled, and even waved flags. The speech was done in the hot of the Summer, and the speech was to bring about change in jobs and freedom for races.


  1. King, M. L., Jr. (1963). I have a dream. Speech presented at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Washington, D.C.
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"I Have a Dream" Speech Tone: Dr. King's Rhetorical Mastery. (2023, Aug 27). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/i-have-a-dream-speech-tone-dr-kings-rhetorical-mastery/