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How does the themes of "I Have a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King Jr. relate to the...

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london123 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 28, 2010 at 12:54 PM via web

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How does the themes of "I Have a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King Jr. relate to the themes of novels, The Great Gatsby, Fifth Business, &Hamlet

I can also compare the speech with the movies, Shirley Valentine and Educating Rita. So, we have an assignment and I have to compare the themes of these three novels with the theme of Martin Luther King's famous speech "I Have a Dream". One of my ideas is that it relates with the novel, The Great Gatsby because of they both relate to the American Dream... any more ideas??

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 29, 2010 at 12:30 AM (Answer #2)

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In all honesty, I am not certain you are going to get very far in comparing King's speech to Fitzgerald's work.  They are both concerned with the American Dream, but their approach is within two different realms.  The materialism that is Fitzgerald's work is not really as present in King's speech.  The flapper social order in which Gatsby, Nick, and the others partake in is not one that King's speech reflects nor seems to be one of his primary motivations.  I would focus the idea of self definition as being critical to King's speech.  The idea of having "a dream" is something where one seeks to make their current situation as one that reflects what they hope it to be.  In this light, "the dream" is a powerfully transformative vision that makes what is into what should be.  I can see "Educating Rita" as fitting this idea.  Rita/ Susan is a hairdresser and lives one form of life and seeks to make it another.  When she is in the pub and sees everyone singing and having a great time, but she can only notice the sadness of her mother and the commitment that is generated within her to not have that same life, you might be able to use this as a segue into what King sees and the resolve that he holds to not allow his children, or any child, to live the life of discrimination and second class citizenship.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 3, 2010 at 8:08 AM (Answer #3)

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I'm with akannan.  Seems to me the dream in Gatsbyis neither realistic nor all that admirable, once Daisy has married Tom.  King's speech is transcendent and applies to the human condition rather than just the human heart.  Hamlet is even more puzzling, I think.  Hamlet has no particular dream.  He has, however, been misjudged (for his apparent excessive grieving) and wants justice.  I suppose on that level Hamlet works. 

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted October 22, 2010 at 4:13 PM (Answer #4)

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This might sound odd, but it's a connection I just made based upon your question. Both Hamlet and Martin Luther King, Jr. were judgmental. King was actually passing judgment on those who did not live up to his "dream" standards. Don't get me wrong, he had a valid point, but he was judging. Hamlet, too, was judgmental of Gertrude and Claudius. He was judgmental of them even before he knew the details of his father's murder. This might have been valid after he knew of his father's murder.  

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