In his statement on the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Robert F. Kennedy alludes to the assassination of his brother, former President John F. Kennedy:
For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.
While he does not mention John F. Kennedy’s name directly, Kennedy’s allusion is easily understood by the audience. Here, the allusion makes Kennedy come across as a compassionate man who did not let his anger for his brother’s killer overcome him and dictate his actions.
Kennedy also alludes to the Greek poet Aeschylus’ trilogy Orestia: “My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: ‘In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God’ ”. In this case, the allusion shows that Kennedy is an empathetic man who values the wisdom that comes from suffering.
Kennedy’s allusion to the Greek tragedy Orestia is not a coincidence, as the tragedy’s main focus is the contrast between revenge and justice. Similarly, Kennedy’s s...