The most important of any speech is its structure, something which King does extremely well in his speech. He does this by showing the plight of the Negroes, showing the truth of the civil rights movement and that there is hope in the future. Basically, the speech’s structure is intended to appeal to the three types of audiences likely to be listening to King’s speech -the average blacks who are discriminated, the average whites who had typical thoughts of that time and racist supremacists. In the beginning of the speech, King uses imagery to depict the condition in which Negroes lived. For example, King says that the life of the blacks is “crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination” and that the blacks are living on a “lonely island of poverty” in the midst of a “vast ocean of material prosperity.” These statements make the whites realize how the blacks feel in a world where they live in horrendous conditions. After portraying various examples of brutality and pain the blacks go through, King starts to give the Negro people a message of hope. At the very end, King starts to talk about the future and how one day, freedom will “ring” from all across the United States and how people of all races will be able to “join hands” and be “brothers and sisters.”
In his speech, King uses rhetorical modes, such as pathos, by making his audience no longer hate Negroes and instead hate racism. King does this by implementing and using strong adjectives and metaphors. For example, King constantly describes the Negroes as being “crippled” by the “manacles of segregation” and “chains of discrimination.” The use of these adjectives results in the audience realizing that their society is very dark and cruel towards blacks throughout his speech, King does this again and again which this all serves to make the audience feel ashamed of racism. Finally, King portraits his vision in the audience by repeating “I have a dream” followed by optimist statements, repeating “Let freedom ring!” and that one day all of “God’s children,” no matter what their race or color, will be able to be brothers and sisters without racial injustice.
King also utilizes ethos and logos. The use of these two rhetorical devices make the audience think that the whites lied to the Negroes. King writes that when America was founded, “the Constitution and Declaration of Independence” stated that all men, black or white, were to be granted the same rights. Ethically, most people believe that it is always best to keep promises. This puts racism in a whole new light, because the Constitution does state that everybody has the same rights. This helps in making whites uncomfortable about their actions. King Also mentions that the only way racial equality can be achieved when “justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” This statement makes the audience realize that racial segregation is