Martin Luther King Jr. Questions and Answers

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What did Martin Luther King Jr. do to arouse the audience’s attention?

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Thomas Mccord eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Another way that Martin Luther King aroused the audience’s attention was through his use of rhetorical devices. To see this in action, let’s look specifically at his “I Have A Dream” speech from 1963.

The second paragraph of the speech opens with the phrase “five score years ago.” This is an example of an allusion because the phrase mirrors the words of Abraham Lincoln in his Emancipation Proclamation. By using this allusion, King not only taps into feelings of familiarity in his audience, but also reignites the emotions connected to the issue of slavery. This ensures that his audience is engaged and taking notice of what he is about to say next.

Secondly, King uses repetition in his speech. He talks about African Americans receiving a “bad check,” for example, and he repeats the word "check" in the same sentence. He also uses it again, on two occasions, in the next paragraph. By repeating this over and over, he not only creates impact, but also a mental association between...

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