What effect do the rhetorical devices have on King's "I Have a Dream" and Obama's "Yes, We Can" speeches.What effect do the rhetorical devices have on King's "I Have a Dream" and Obama's "Yes, We...

What effect do the rhetorical devices have on King's "I Have a Dream" and Obama's "Yes, We Can" speeches.

What effect do the rhetorical devices have on King's "I Have a Dream" and Obama's "Yes, We Can" speeches.

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

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The rhetorical devices in both speeches allow the reader/ listener to remember them in a more effective way.  For example, when both authors use the idea of contrasting the difficulty of the current condition to achieving the goal they seek, it is a powerful reality shift offered between what should be and what is.  The chasm between both realities is something that helps to remind the reader/ listener that the striving for another reality that is better than this one is worth undertaking.  King accomplishes this with contrasting the vision of segregated America with one that more in line with American History and one that appeals to its promises and possibilities.  Obama contrasts the Status Quo of cynicism and apathy with a vision of participatory democracy that empowers and enables individuals to make what is better.  The rhetorical device of contrasting what is with what can be helps to emphasize the overall message in both speeches.  Additionally, the use of repetition allowed each speech's fundamental message to be seared into the memory of American consciousness.  "The dream" became the central metaphor to guide both the Civil Rights Movement and other groups' messages of empowerment that followed.  "Yes we can" became a rallying cry in 2008, one that was able to convince Americans to take a chance on electing a candidate whose narrative was vastly different than any other candidate before him for office of the President of the United States.

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