This analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, “I Have a Dream”, is based on the rhetorical pentagram model. Here we present a short overview of our analysis of the speech.

We will focus on the topics the speech explores, namely racial discrimination, freedom, and equality. We will then discuss the speaker, looking at his background, his role in the Civil Rights Movement, and the image he conveys of himself through the speech.

We will continue by looking at the audience – formed by both black and white civil rights activists present at the speech and by the larger audience who saw the speech televised. We will also consider which segments of the audience the speaker addresses and why.

We will discuss the language used by the speaker, including rhetorical devices like metaphors, repetitions, and forms of appeal and how they relate to the speaker’s intention of promoting equal rights in American society and encouraging the audience to continue to use peaceful means to further their quest for civil rights and the end of segregation.

Finally, we will present the circumstances of the speech focusing on the March on Washington in the context of the Civil Rights Movement in the US in the 1960s.

Read the full analysis in what follows!

Further help

Talanalys | Guide

Do you need more advice for analyzing speeches? Check out our Swedish guide to speech analysis.