Political Discourse In Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream

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1. Introduction

A great speech as it is, Martin Luther King 's "I Have a Dream" is widely considered as an epitome of political rhetoric. Written by a major figure in African Americans activism, the importance of the speech partially originates in the significance of the historical moment in which it was delivered, as well as the importance of its message. More importantly, however, language played the most essential role in providing a voice to the cause, since the linguistic discursive choices that were made by the writer of the speech created the most profound effect upon its hearers. Indeed, it is the linguistic structure of the speech, its discourse, that is, that facilitated its resonating with people to this day, making it politically relevant.

Discourse, as that exemplified by the excerpt above, is a bilateral activity involving a speaker, be it a political leader, an activist or a TV presenter hosting a political talk show, and its hearer. Among the two, the speaker is considered as more powerful in such a relationship, for only they control what and how the message is delivered. Language is one of the tools they can use for manipulation or persuasion. Accordingly, a receiver of a
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In fact, as exemplified by the excerpt, "I Have a Dream" is rich in metaphorical language that draws vivid pictures of the agony and the suffering of African American people. Without such figurative use of language, there is very little doubt that political leaders might be able to get through to their audiences and peoples. Given such an important status of metaphor, it is considered an essential part of political discourse, as it is easily and readily resorted to by writers in this field to influence audiences. It is important, thus, to study metaphor in political speech, since a more detailed analysis will ultimately lead to a better understanding of the role it
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