Gettysburg Address Rhetorical Analysis Essay

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King uses the word “history” twice in this simple prefatory line, foreshadowing that he will be taking a historical perspective, which he does from the start. Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity. Echoing Lincoln’s famous formulation, “fourscore and seven years ago,” in the literal shadow of the Lincoln monument, King here combines the verbal with the visual to turn Lincoln’s two great 1863 acts of communication-the Emancipation Proclamation and Gettysburg address-into a symbolic foreshadowing of his own remarks 100 years later. In doubling this historical connection, he underscores what will be his main theme: Emancipation has not yet been realized:…show more content…
He says that “in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment I still have a dream … a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.” An essential goal of the speech is to instill hope, optimism, and faith in the listeners that the dream of freedom will be achieved, to urge with a powerful metaphor that they “not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” He describes his stirring dreams, which are themselves ominatio, foretelling a future without racism, a future of freedom for all. He builds to the climax using the phrase “Let freedom ring” a dozen times and ends with the final repetitions of the key word as he says we can “speed up that day when all of God’s children … will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’
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