During his lifetime, Martin Luther King Junior had the privilege of giving several speeches whose main theme in almost all was on the freedom of the black Americans. ‘I have a dream’ was among the many speeches that emphasized the freedom of the black Americans. Martin Luther King Junior gave this speech during the leadership of the then president of America, Jeff Kennedy in 1963. Surprisingly, this speech has gained the most fame all over the world because of its content.
In the ‘I have a dream’ speech, Martin Luther incorporates different styles of literature among them rhetoric, figurative speech, pathos, ethos and similes just to mention a few. These are used to emphasize the message that he wishes to express to the world. In this paper, only one literature style (use of pathos) used in the speech will be discussed.
Pathos is a style of literature in which the author of a certain piece of work incorporates his or her life experiences in a bid to evoke emotion from the audience. The emotion evoked could be that of compassion, sorry or pity. Martin Luther King Junior has effectively used this literature style in the ‘I have a dream’ speech leading to the achievement of its objectives. There are several instances in the speech that reveal the use of pathos, some of which include the following.
At one point during the speech, Martin Luther King Junior confesses of his “dream that [his] four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character” (Hansen 176). In this, Martin Luther King Junior uses pathos by divulging the speech to his own life in order for the audience to understand what he talks about. It is clear that in this statement Martin Luther King Junior does not only refer to his own children but to the entire children of the Americans.
The audience is not only compassionate on this statement but they gain more respect for Martin Luther King Junior who takes the position of a father. Martin Luther King Junior goes further to indicate that he has faith that his children will not be worried when they find signs written “No Whites Allowed” (Hansen 180).
He notes that he has the hope that his children will have the strength to bear this discrimination and still hopes that at one point in time the children of the black Americans will be able to walk hand in hand with those of the whites just as sisters and brothers do.
In another instance during his speech, Martin Luther King Junior says, “some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality” (Hansen 178).
In this statement, Martin Luther King Junior appeals for emotion from the people by revealing to them the brutality of the police to the black Americans and especially those who have fallen victim of this kind of brutality. The audience feels sad and sorry for themselves when Martin Luther King Junior tells of this brutality. As such, he effectively achieves pathos in this statement.
It can thus be concluded that Martin Luther King Junior uses pathos in several instances of the speech in a bid to gain the emotion of the audience. This is depicted when he talks of police brutality, discrimination and spraying of fire horses on the black Americans, all of which bring about torture.
Hansen, Daniel. The Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Speech that Inspired a Nation. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2003. Print.