Martin Luther King Jr Essay

Category: Culture
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Martin Luther King Jr and Langston Hughes were both figureheads for black rights. Martin Luther King inspired other through his powerful and meaningful speeches,while Langston Hughes through his meticulously worded, artistic poems. Martin Luther King used repetition, metaphors,, and past experiences to create his message. Hughes used similes and forced readers to question his meaning and to think of their own. Martin Luther King used these devices to give examples that were relatable to readers and listeners. They would help them understand his meaning. Langston Hughes’ use of similes helps to open readers minds and help readers in understanding his views.

Martin Luther King used rhetorical strategies like ethos, pathos, and logos to reach listeners. The ethos was Kings education and leadership. As an educated black man, the people he was speaking to greatly respected him, as he was an inspiration and role model to many black people. Not many black people were able to go to school, or even speak publicly. He played to the emotions of the crowd, pathos, with his extreme metaphors like blacks being held back by “manacles of segregation” and the chains of discrimination”. He could inspire them to defend themselves from the pain. The basis of his speech was to inspire and to make people think. He showed everyone that no one should be treated differently because of skin color. This was the logos. It made sense for everyone to be equal, African-Americans should not be stuck in low quality lives with no chance of escaping to a successful future.

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King’s speech was sophisticated and powerful. He used strong metaphors to exaggerate their problem and to open listeners eyes. His use of elaborate words and phrases highlights his education, furthering his image of a role model for young, black americans. For example, “one hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination”(10). Another example is “it came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity”(9). These metaphors described the severe injustice in a elaborate and accurate manner. They highlight the struggle of black Americans to reach their American Dream and reach their success. He also uses repetition to make a point. For example, he repeats “I have and dream” many times. Also, he repeats “one hundred years later” to highlight the fact that it has been a century since the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and black people are still not free.

While Langston Hughes’ “Harlem” doesn’t have rhetorical strategies, as it is a short poem, it does have stylistic elements and hidden meanings behind each line. Every line has a simile to better describe Hughes’ thoughts. Simile also help reader to find their own meanings to the poem. It starts with “What happens to a dream deferred?” Hughes is wondering what a person who has given up on a dream goes through and he wonders what happens to the dream. It is directed towards the failed dreams of African-Americans and immigrants. The poem continues with the line “Does it dry up, like a raisin in the sun?” Hughes is questioning if the dream shrivels up or loses it’s promise and life when a dreamer stops working for it. Maybe the dreamer loses his purpose as well. Hughes writes, “or does it fester like a sore, then run?” He is questioning the dreamer in this line, saying does the dreamer let his anger and hatred leak out of him or does he run and not face his failure. A sore represents pain, it can represent the pain African-Americans have felt from injustice for decades. The poem then reads, “does it stink like rotten meat?” The rotting meat is the dream that was once thriving that is now dead and the stink is the anger built up that a person will have to deal with for the rest of their life. The following line is “Does is crust and sugar over, like a syrupy sweet”. The dream, which began as tasty sweet, starts to crust over and go bad while it waits to be accomplished. Hughes describes the regret of deferring dreams in the next line. “Or maybe it just sags, like heavy load.” People have to live with knowing they can never accomplish want they wanted to because they procrastinated and delayed working for their dream. The poem calmly finishes with “or does it explode?” This line is very different compared to the others. The other lines refer to one dream failing. This line is suggesting that one dream can cause a chain of failures, just like an explosion causes great damage, a failed dream can ruin a person’s desire for anything else in life. Both Martin Luther King and Langston Hughes use dreams as a central idea for civil rights.”

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Martin Luther King Jr Essay. (2021, May 10). Retrieved from