Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the foreground with other people standing attentively in the background

"I Have a Dream" Speech

by Martin Luther King Jr.

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Which parts of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech could be improved?

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I think it's really difficult to compose this particular aspect of the assignment.  In all honesty, I would be hard- pressed to find one part, not to speak of more than one, area that is weak.  It could be one of the most important and "perfect" speeches ever delivered in American History.  Finding weakness is not going to be easy.  The only thing I could offer, and it is a stretch, is that like all visions of what can be, there is not much in the speech that expresses how "the dream" is going to be accomplished.  This is not a weakness of this particular speech, but rather a statement about the nature of articulating a vision of what can be as opposed to what is.  This would be the only possible thing I can derive about the potential weakness of the speech.

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I agree with the earlier posting - there is very little, if anything, to criticise about this speech. Many teachers and academics use it as an exemplar to illustrate technique, delivery, effect and social impact. King did deliver some speeches which were less successful - in one using the metaphor of abortion to a church gathering - but this one is excellent.

I would ask your teacher which techniques s/he considers exemplify a good speech and find examples of these from the text. There is no shortage of repetition, assonance, alliteration, anecdote, use of personal pronouns, emotive language, imagery and metaphor to name just a few. I would be interested what criticisms could be levelled at this work.

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I wonder who would ask such a question; maybe it's a trick. I certainly hope so.

If I were given this assignment, I'd say that Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech was spoken from the heart to a nation ripe for change, and since it came from the heart, weaknesses in rhetoric, if any can be found by fault-finders, are beside the point and irrelevant. It is one of the greatest speeches in American history, maybe even in world history.

Write about various aspects of the speech and show how beautiful, meaningful and true they are. Strength and hope and insight are everywhere in it. Quote directly from the speech again and again. Say after every passage you quote: "This doesn't sound weak to me."

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