Imagery Behind Dr. King's I Have a Dream Speech

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In the speech, I Have a Dream, by Martin Luther King Jr., he addresses racism in a vivid manor, and he uses similes and imagery to captivate whomever this speech reaches. First, let us address one of the many similes he uses within his speech. "Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream…" (King) he took this simile from the book of Amos in the Hebrew bible. Dr. King was a Baptist minister, so it is only normal for him to know many bible scriptures from multiple religions by heart. This specific Hebrew bible verse was very impactful for this speech. This verse is an example of poetic parallelisms, the first and second part of the writing have the same meaning, as a way of reinforcing the main idea within their writings. I believe he used this verse because it is powerful and spoke of righteousness, which is something Dr. King wanted to triumph in the areas of racism in America. Dr. King also uses a myriad of metaphors throughout this speech. Almost every line of this speech he left bespattered in metaphors to help create a vivid imagery that could not escape even the most unimaginative of minds. “beacon light of hope…seared in the flames of withering injustice” (King) “crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination” (King) “sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent… invigorating autumn of freedom and equality” (King) “whirlwinds of revolt…shake the foundations…bright day of justice emerges” (King). All of these are just a few examples of the robust imagery he uses to help paint a picture for the people that are exposed to this speech. Dr. King wrote this speech in a time when racism was much more prevalent than it is now. Therefore, I believe that by his use of such intense and potent words in the speech, he was hoping to conquer even the most racist person. He would achieve this

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