Historical Context

There are countless websites devoted to young name Luther King Jr. My intention is no to carry out a thorough historical analysis of King’s importance or the importance of his most well known speech. The function of this study overview is to administer an evaluation of metaphors in his speech. That being said, a straightforward understanding that the speech’s historic significance is necessary.

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King yielded the decided at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. On respectable 28, 1963.The decided culminated a civil civil liberties march top top Washington in an attempt to secure legal rights for African-Americans.The march, king’s speech, and other boycotts and protests ultimately led to the Civil civil liberties Act the 1964, i m sorry outlawed major aspects that discrimination.

Figurative Language

The historical significance of king speech overshadows that is brilliant use of figurative language. Let’s analyze the adhering to metaphors:

Quote: “This momentous decree come as a good beacon light of expect to countless Negro servants who had been seared in the flames the withering injustice. It come as a joyous daybreak to finish the lengthy night of their captivity.”

Metaphor: The Emancipation Proclamation is compared to a “great beacon irradiate of hope.” The unjust of slavery is compared to searing flames. The Emancipation Proclamation is contrasted to a joyous daybreak after ~ a lengthy night.

Analysis: King starts with one allusion come Abraham Lincoln and also the Emancipation Proclamation. The start of the speech is hopeful yet offers a note that no all is right. His allusions and subsequent metaphors hint the momentus readjust is roughly the corner and also that the really hopes of the Emancipation Proclamation have not to be fulfilled.


Quote: “One hundred years later, the life of the negro is still i m so sad crippled through the manacles of segregation and also the chain of discrimination. One century later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the middle of a large ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the negro is quiet languished in the corners of American culture and finds self an exile in his very own land.”

Metaphor: segregation is contrasted to manacles; distinguish is compared to chains. The economic problem of the negro in relationship to the remainder of America is compared to “a lonely island of poor in the midst of a huge ocean of product prosperity.” The black is compared to a male in exile.

Analysis: ~ the hopeful allusion come the Emancipation Proclamation, King uses anaphora–the deliberate repetition of a word or a expression at the start of succeeding clauses–to repeat his listeners the “one century later” the descendants of freed servants are quiet struggling come achieve straightforward rights.

Unalienable Rights

Quote: “In a feeling we’ve come to our nation’s resources to cash a check. When the architects of our republic created the magnificent words the the Constitution and the explanation of Independence, they to be signing a promissory keep in mind to i m sorry every American to be to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men and also white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” that “Life, Liberty and also the search of Happiness.” it is noticeable today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Rather of honoring this sacred obligation, America has offered the Negro human being a bad check, a inspect which has come back marked “insufficient funds.””

Metaphor: The march on Washington is contrasted to going come the financial institution to cash a check. The Constitution and Declaration of freedom is compared to a promissory keep in mind on i beg your pardon America has actually defaulted.

Analysis: King to be a reverand, familiar with biblical concepts of love and justice. The was likewise a realist and also understood the equality will occur for the African-American when African-Americans have accessibility to money. This is his second metaphor involving money–this is not a coincidence. King identified the brilliance that the nation’s establishing documents and also calls for their immediate application.

The Dream

Quote: “I still have actually a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”

Metaphor: The American dream is indirectly contrasted to well-off soil, a soil in i m sorry King has planted his dream of racial equality.

Analysis: King reiterates that his dream is no different than the dream the the founding Fathers. His dream receives its legitimacy native the ideals set forth in the declaration of Independence and the United says Constitution come which King refers earlier in the speech.

Quote: “This is no time to interact in the luxury of cooling off or to take it the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Currently is the moment to make genuine the promises of democracy. Now is the time to climb from the dark and also desolate sink of segregation to the sunlit route of racial justice. Currently is the moment to elevator our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice come the solid absent of brotherhood. Currently is the moment to make justice a reality for every one of God’s children.”

Metaphor: Inaction is contrasted to a deluxe that civil civil liberties workers have to not purchase. Gradual adjust is compared to tranquilizers. Distinction is contrasted to a desolate valley. Racial Justice is compared to a sunlit path. Racial injustice is compared to quicksand. Brotherhood is contrasted to heavy rock.

Analysis: King interpreted human nature. He understood the herbal human tendency to relax as soon as things room going well. That urges his followers no to relax. The hit is no over (anyone who’s played high institution sports has probably heard something similar from a coach). The case is urgent and to hold-up is death.


Quote: “And those who hope the the Negro necessary to punch off vapor and will now be content will have a crude awakening if the country returns to organization as usual. And also there will be neither remainder nor peace in America till the negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of rebellion will proceed to shiver the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”

Metaphor: The potential revolt caused by the nation returning to “business as usual” is contrasted to a whirlwind. The nation’s starting principals–what King relies on in his speech because that political legitimacy–is contrasted to a foundation. Justice emerging is contrasted to a glowing day.

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Analysis: King as soon as again references money in his “business together usual” remark. He endangers those in power that a revolution is coming–albeit a relaxed one–if political leaders carry out not carry out the justices guarantee in the nation’s founding documents.