Political Discourse Analyzing
The famous “I have a dream” speech electrified America in 1963, when it was delivered in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The main message in the speech was that all people were created equal, which was not the case in America’s political dispensations at that time. I have a dream comes alot to the minds of many people as a struggle for freedom, of the black African race in America (Hutcheon, 2000)
Cohesion in a political discourse finds words with related meanings, and identifying connections between words in a text. I have a dream speech by Martin Luther King is one of the speeches that have stayed popular for a long time in the whole world. An excerpt from the speech states, “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood”. The connection is evident that sons in either case are son which is the bottom line.
According to Goddard, (1998), and Hutcheon, (2000), stylistically the speech is a political treatise, or a work of poetry delivered masterfully like an improvised sermon. Former slave owners and former slaves are both able to bear sons and become like brothers. This connection that former slave owners and former slaves are supposed to be like brothers. But Martin Luther King could see this in a dream that would come true (Morris, &, Hirst, 1991; Halliday, 1985).
The bursting biblical language and imagery used especially in the first parts of the speech portrays a picture of seething American nightmare of racial segregation against the blacks. The former slave owners are the whites and the former slaves are the blacks. His use of the phrase, “now is the time”. For example, now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand’s of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. This reflects the need for urgency in realizing the dream. It calls for action, and it is the kind of urgency seen in America today, of it has to happen now. This implies that now is the task that is given the first priority (McCarthy, 1991).
A greater part of King’s approach was more visionary and eloquence to the non violent movement against black segregation in America. The second part of the speech deals with the dream in a fairer future of racial harmony and integration (Halliday, 1978; Todorova, 1999). The part of the speech that says; I say to you today, my friends, that inspire of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. The repetition of this phrase continually emphasizes in driving home Martin Luther King’s inspirational concepts.
Coherence serves as a quick way to analyze the overall form rather than the content of an argument in a speech. The coherence through parallel structure was highly applied by Martin Luther King in his speech. The reader or listener can easily predict what King is about to say. Looking at the speech, it presents a powerful rhetorical effect of using parallel structure to create refrain. For example, I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. This sentence can easily be connected to the following: With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we be free one day. The linguistic features are powerful determinants of similarities and differences between registers. I have a dream today stretches cohesion to the inter clause, inter sentence and inter paragraph level.
The logical coordination and subordination of ideas is clear. The super ordinate is supplied from the title “The American Dream”. All the words, paragraphs, and sentences make a comment either directly or indirectly about this title, and are thus subordinate to it. All the first six sentences allure directly to the title by relating some aspects of King’s dream for America. This illustrates a superb and logical subordination to the title, and coordination with one another. This coordination is shown clearly by grammatical parallelism of the sentences. “This is the faith” is also subordination to the entire sentence that begins with “I have a dream” but coordinates with “This is our hope”. The rhetorical synonym that substitutes faith for hope is a reiterated idea.
In addition to pronoun references, synonyms, and repeated words, parallelism is an important means of creating coherence. It provides the reader or listener with the cue of the way things are going in the speech. Martin Luther is able to create a link between sentences and enhance the coherence of paragraphs. One can follow the movement of King’s mind over the American Dream with a clear understanding and gist of the text.
The speech clearly enchants the soul; this is very remarkable emotion in both sound and power. The mood of the day gave a sense of perpetual slavery among the blacks, and a sense of guilt in the midst of the whites. This is well shown by the phrase: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, We are free at last! The linguistic order came out as a fervent emotional sermon. I have a dream can be claimed to be a rhetorical masterpiece, given King’s magnetism and open sincererity that makes equal platforms come from the ruled to the ruler. In trying to discover particular cases of all available means of persuasion could be attributed to oratory skills that King had. This was both an art and talent used by King to bring a bridge between reason and imagination. Thus the discourse enlightens the understanding levels through imagination, passion, and influence.
The amazing rhetoric demanding racial justice and an integrated society became the core of the the black community. The speech was widely acceptable among the blacks; this was evident by the large crowd that gathered for the speech. This was familiar to subsequent generations of Americans as US declaration of independence. He carefully chose words that directly touched on the social and political upheavals of that time in America. He gave the American nation a word to describe what was happening. It was a kind of rhythmic, which came with hope and freedom.
Towards the end of the speech, he changed his act so as to drive the final message home. As much as his target audience for the speech was the United States government, and other stakeholders, His attention turned to black people. The African American people who had gathered at this venue, and those listening across the nation; he reminded them that there is need for perseverance, as freedom was coming. He reminded the whole nation that freedom is coming to all corners; as illustrated by his voice that displayed seriousness, urgency, and boldness equated to the quest for freedom (McCarthy, &, Carter, 1994;Pulverness, 2001; Reah, 1998).
Using critical discourse analysis in this speech demystifies anything apparent from the speeches. This tends to be associated to power, struggle, and politics. A critical analysis of the topic reveals that it was chosen after extensive research, and thorough thoughtfulness. I have a dream is ingrained in the whole speech, always emphasising the central theme of the message. The speech talked about what touched the hearts of Americans, both black and white. His phrase that said, to save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.
It clearly touches both races as two sides of a mirror. This is further illustrated by the following: In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Education is vital to all the American citizens, just like the promissory note for equal access to peace. This is a model of effective communication and a powerful example of African American. The speech gave a vision of what a redeemed America may appear, with the hope that this redemption will come to pass one day. He dearly cemented this hope by saying that let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away, and that in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty (Cheung, 2001; Franklin, 1999).
The speech really informed the American people of the plight of the segregated black people. It did not only inform the American, but the whole world, through many generations to date. The need for freedom and equality became so paramount that the dream was realized. Today Americans have a president who has black African origins. This is an example of the realization of the American dream of integration, and not segregation (Abla-Juez, 2009; Gee, 2005; McCarthy, 1991)
During the march to Washington for jobs and freedom, most people realized that the march was highly credited with helping to pass the civil rights act (1964), and the National Voting Rights act (1965). Because he wanted everyone, both blacks and whites to get along and be united against racism. When he said that, machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people; the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered. He was clearly against the Vietnam War.
King must have read the bible, The Gettysburg address, and the US Declaration of Independence is connected to his speech. Given the socio-political situation, the speech could not have come a better time. King must have felt it must be a case of the future, he argued his point passionately and powerfully. The organisation of the speech takes care of all situations and times. Like when he talked about no time to engage in the luxury of cooling or to take the tranquilizing drug addiction of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.
This illustrates that now is the time is very situational and a matter of urgency to open doors of opportunity to all God’s children. The speech took care of situations that both affected blacks and whites. Especially i n the part that he said; The marvellous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
The power that King used is comparable to Obama’s speech that is very current. The speech and therefore any situation befit the main message of the speech. King himself also gave the undertone that it was situational by asserting that he was happy to join with the congregation on that day in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of the American nation.
According to Morris & Hirst, (1991, pp.24-32), in seeking the truth, King really employed inter-textuality, because inter-textual references were put in a hybrid discourse. It appealed to different ethnic audiences. The speech was an ambitious, broad ranging statement that encompassed creativity. The enormous use of inter-textual references specifically defines other words such as allusion, influence, reference, and reformation. Like when the New Testament eludes readings from the Old Testament. ‘I have a dream’ you probably would be doing more than just quoting a small phrase from Dr. King. You would probably be attempting to pull in the wider context of his speech and the moment in history and perhaps even of the character of Dr. King, himself.
I have a Dream was a seventeen minute speech, that was delivered to over 200000 civil rights supporters. It has been ranked the top American Speech of the 20th century. He educated, inspired, and informed many generations that came long after the speech was delivered. The register and ideology used in this political discourse were based on his ideology. It also gives a poetic register. The speech created transition of democracy, and separating the register of politics from the norm.
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