Language

The language used by Martin Luther King in “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” is formal and resembles the language used in religious sermons. This is typical of the speaker’s style and consistent with his position as a Baptist Minister: “Again with Amos, ‘Let justice roll down like wate…

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Choice of words

Looking at the choice of words, note that the speaker frequently creates contrasts between positive and negative images, a technique designed to maintain the audience’s attention. This technique also makes the audience realize the unfairness of the current situation, while also giving hope for a better future.

On the one hand, the speaker uses words and phrases like: “all mes…

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Sentence structure

Martin Luther King uses both short and long sentences.  Short sentences show more determination: “We don't have to argue with anybody.”

Longer sentences help the speaker create more detailed images that appeal to the audience’s imagination and reason: “…and force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God's children here suffering, sometimes going…

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Tone

If you listen to the audio version of the speech, you will notice that Martin Luther King’s tone is very emotional and ceremonial, much like as if he was making a religious sermon. For most of the speech, King speaks very clearly, raising his voice to emphasize certain words and ideas.

At the same time, t…

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Anecdotes and parables

Martin Luther King uses several anecdotes (stories with a message), usually involving himself, to show the audience that he is an experienced activist.

One such story is about the protests he attended in Alabama , when the authorities tried to prevent the march with water hoses, dogs, and by jailing protesters. The story shows that despite the opposition of the authorit…

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