“I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King

Sample Paper

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  • Give examples of THREE emotional appeals that MLK makes in “I Have a Dream.”

Rhetorical appeal:

King makes use of rhetorical speech, whereby he asks a question to change the tone of his voice, yet answers it himself. This is a trademark of any good sermon. In response to his question of satisfaction he repeats on seven consecutive occasions; “We can never be satisfied”. This style reinforces the urgency of how his community feels. King adopts a humanitarian style of preaching he refers to his own children and other fundamentals such as ‘water; which is a basic human need. His deep expression of dissatisfaction climaxes when he bellows, “justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream”.

Ethical appeal

Martin Luther King articulated a radical, ethical doctrine that social justice, racial equality, and economic reform were achievable in our society through successful appeal to the conscience of the individual. He believed that despite the accretion of a historical experience that reaches back two and half centuries of slavery, it is possible to ascend to a higher plane in human relations without violence or other forms of coercive force’. (The Unfinished Agenda, 1985)

Logical appeal

Concerning logical appeal, He draws attention to the current inadequacies and inequalities and counterbalances this with positive solutions that will satisfy his peoples.  He inspires hope within in his people by simple statements such as, “Nineteen sixty-three is not an end but a beginning: and unearned suffering is redemptive”.  King also anticipates the sheer diversity of his audience, black people from different states, exposed to differing treatment, some more severe than others and also white people present with a conviction to end this unjust state of affairs.  However these people, he realizes, are all brought together in their common quest for freedom.

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