Martin Luther King Jr. Speech Analysis Example
“Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” These were the words which ended the speech that would inadvertently start one of the biggest movements for racial emancipation globally. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed it as: ...the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation”, August 28th, 1963 at the Washington D.C. Lincoln Memorial. Over 250,00 people watched as he spoke about the unjust and unfair treatment of African-Americans throughout the U.S. He demanded freedom for all African-Americans and the future generations to come. In the famous novel, Animal Farm written by George Orwell, the pig Old Major gathers all the farm animals for a speech. This speech insisted that the animals of the farm overthrew the humans and built their own government. “No animal in England is free. The life of an animal is misery and slavery: that is the plain truth”, was what Old Major told the animals. Every animal was to be equal. No animal could adopt the ways of humans. Both speeches are similar in their purpose, content, and certain literary elements. However, they are different in other parts of content and literary elements. These two famous speeches, though contrasting, also share many similarities.
Old Major and Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches both have the purpose to motivate. Old Major explains how the humans treat the animals as they are slaves; taking from them and making them work without anything in return. In order to stop this, he motivates the animals to obtain their freedom no matter the consequences and form a government where all animals are equal. Martin Luther King Jr. brings awareness to the horrible treatment of African-Americans in hope to change the views of everyone. Not only that, but he motivates everyone to peacefully protest for their rights and never give up until they are truly free. Both Old Major and Martin Luther King Jr. are motivating the animals or people to never give up until freedom comes.
As an ending to his speech, Old Major sings a song from his childhood- Beasts of England. This song was talking of the future freedom for animals; a place where no human existed. Similarly, Martin Luther King Jr. at the near end of his speech quoted the first three lines to My Country Tis’ of Thee. This song also was about freedom but in America for every person who lived there. These songs helped the speech a great deal, because they made the people or animals watching that freedom was possible, that they should have freedom already. One song was a message a freedom already supposed to be in that country. The other song was a message of freedom one day to come.
The two speeches both contain the literary elements parallelism and metaphor. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today! . . .”, this is one example of parallelism in I Have a Dream. An example in Old Major’s speech is, “He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is not too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits.” Those examples of parallelism help to shape to idea of freedom in each speech. Both speeches also contain metaphors, in Old Major’s speech an example is, “But no animal escapes the cruel knife in the end.” An example in Martin’s speech is, “...seared in the flames of withering injustice.” Both examples have to do with the cruel treatment of either animals or African-Americans.
While similar, the speeches do have their differences. Martin Luther King Jr. is peacefully protesting for the civil rights of African-Americans. Peacefully trying to earn something tends to have a bigger effect than forcefully. The opposing side will be more willing to listen and cooperate with the terms. The method of protesting made the speech to be non-aggressive but it still made the point clear that freedom was being demanded. Also, everyone, not just those of the African-American race could watch this speech. He was bringing awareness to everyone and asking everyone for help. In Old Major’s speech, he wanted a violent rebellion for freedom from humans. Whatever must be done to achieve the government and freedom they wished was to be done. The animals also did not bring awareness to everyone, only animals knew of this plan. This made this speech commanding and a little aggressive. Violent protesting only leads to bad things, the other side will only grow angry at the other. ….
“No animal must ever kill any other animal. All animals are equal.” This quote is a foreshadowing example from the speech give in Animal Farm. The I Have a Dream speech does not contain foreshadowing as he did not have anyway of knowing what were to happen with the rights of African-Americans. The example from Old Major’s speech foreshadows what happens after the government is established. No society where everyone is to be equal can work; greed and selfishness is too distinguishable for it to ever be able to happen. The power goes to one’s head and they benefit only themselves and select others. Those they see incompetent or don’t particuarly like will get little for their efforts. This quote tells those who read that eventually the power will eventually go to their head. “All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.”
Both speeches are similar in manys ways, but also contain many differences. These speeches helped me to realize the different ways in which people obtain freedom or power. Peacefully earning freedom tends to work better overall than violently doing so. It also made me realize how people who want to achieve power can play with their words to make it seem innocent and harmless plan that is only for the good of the society; a speech about wanting power can sound similar to one about wanting freedom.