Martin Luther King, Jr. (I Have a Dream)

The “I Have a Dream” speech is one of the most iconic speeches till this day for many reasons. The non violent nature of the speech not only pushed the movement for civil rights during the 1960s, but it also brought people of color together to fight the injustice being laid upon the African American community in our nation. The main purpose of the speech was to rally for support for the civil rights movement and persuade people that the government alienating people and making them out to be second class citizens was not right.

Within the speech there are a lot of uses of figurative language. For instance, Martin Luther king, Jr. says “ Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” He also states “ One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.” As you can see these uses of figurative language are not phrases that you always see in print or are common like “Achilles’ Heel.” According to George Orwell and his six rules refraining from using dying metaphors stops a writer from writing bad english because one does not know the true meaning behind the phrase and the context it’s being used in. Also this speech follows another one of the six rules presented by Orwell being that “Never use a long word when a short one will do.” All in all, the diction found across the speech isn’t too simple and certainly does not use unnecessary complicated words to confuse the audience.

In his essay “ Politics and the English Language,” Orwell mentions that the enemy of clear language is insincerity. Insincerity being when politicians try to take advantage of the decline of language and use “pretentious diction” and “meaningless words” to hide their true intentions. In my opinion, I believe that there is little to no use of tactics like that in “I Have a Dream” and that’s what makes it such an iconic and memorable speech.

speech can be found at: