Comparative Rhetorical Analysis: Martin Luther King Jr. And Malcolm X

1343 words - 5 pages

Speeches are a method of persuading people to do something. For Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, their speeches were to bring equality for the people of color. However, their approaches are different. Consequently, the effects may be different. An example of their contrasting differences is a speech from each, King’s “I Have a Dream” and X’s “The Black Revolution”. Their speeches used pathos, a central metaphor, and a warning, but was presented differently.
Both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X manipulate the audience’s emotions, pathos, throughout the speech. However, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X use pathos in different ways. Martin Luther King Jr. uses pathos to create a patriotic and welcoming feeling throughout the audience. In his opening paragraph, he greets the audience by stating he is “happy” to speak to the audience. Throughout the speech, he includes positive words to reinforce the welcoming feeling such as “hope” (101), “joyous” (101), “magnificence” (101), and “great” (101). In addition, he adds a patriotic feeling in the crowd to show that people of color are not different from white people. He includes an American song, My Country Tis’ of Thee, as well as repeating the word “together” (103) in another paragraph. He uses the last line of My Country Tis’ of Thee, “let freedom ring” (104), towards the end of the speech to emphasize that the people of color are similar to white people. By using the song, he is showing that both African Americans and white people know the song.
On the other hand, Malcolm X uses pathos to instill fear into the audience. X uses “seething” (105), “bitterness” (105), “evils” (106), “ignite” (105-106), “fire” (105-106), and “explosive” (105), and includes other words such as “bullets” (107), “bloodshed” (109, 110), “death” (106, 109), and “revolt” (107). However, Malcolm X creates a feeling of relief to the audience towards the end by giving a solution to avoid the consequence of what created the first emotion of fright. He claims that if the federal government gave the people of color the right to vote, if they are “given full use of the ballot in every one of the fifty states” (110), bloodshed will be avoided. If people of color are not given the right to vote, then bullets will be used “if they want to cast a ballot” (107) and a revolt shall begin. Malcolm X uses fear and relief to manipulate the audience into listening him and acting upon his words.
Also, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X use a central metaphor in their speeches. Dr. King uses the metaphor of a check because Americans, at the time the speech was given, were using checks all the time. Checks were a part of daily life and Martin Luther King Jr. knew this. Hence, he uses the central metaphor of a check to relate to Americans; the check blurred the distinction between whites from the people of color. He states that the United States of America has given the people of color “a bad check” (101) that is not valid to...

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