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Rhetorical Analysis (Essay Sample)


The rhetorical analysis of Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have Been to the Mountaintop" speech showed the effective use of logos and pathos in persuading the audience. Logos appeals to reason and rationality, while pathos appeals to emotions. The analysis highlights the importance of being well-prepared with facts and data and storytelling to achieve effective persuasion in speeches.


Rhetorical Analysis
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Rhetorical Analysis
The text that I will be analyzing is Martin Luther King Jr’s "I Have Been to the Mountaintop" speech. Martin was a pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist church in Alabama. He was also a strong member of the civil rights groups of his race. He was a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. I extracted the "I have been to the Mountaintop" speech online at American rhetoric speeches. The speech was delivered on April 3, 1968, at Mason Temple in Memphis due to discrimination against Black workers. King wanted to inspire Black people not to lose hope in their desire to build an equitable society. He encouraged them to take action against entities promoting discrimination and focus on strengthening Black institutions. The text was interesting and effective due to King's rhetorical approach in its delivery. He used powerful language such as "it is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or non-existence."
One of the key rhetorical concepts used in the text is logos. Logos appeals to the audience's sense of reason and rationality. The rhetor who appeals to logos has to move step by step from an acceptable aspect and then to the conclusion. An effective rhetor has to determine the important steps of logic that are relevant to the audience. He also has to know which should be skipped and still be persuasive. The other concept used in the text is pathos. This includes the approaches a rhetor uses to appeal to the audience's emotions. One has to use language that evokes feelings of joy, anger, and sadness to ensure the audience takes the intended action.
Logos is evident in Martin Luther's speech as he wanted to make the audience see the reason to take action against people and institutions discriminating the people of color. He started by acknowledging the striking sanitation workers who had attended the Mason Temple service despite the warnings showing they were willing to go on anyhow. He wanted them to believe that a time had come to take action, and they did not have a choice. Moreover, he describes the struggles the people of color have gone through in the past to make them realize it was important to participate in the human rights revolution. He wanted to inspire them that they needed to take action so they could gain their rightful place in God's world. Martin was logical in suggesting that they should boycott products such as Coca-Cola, Sealtest milk, and Wonder Bread to demand a change of the discriminative policies (Adler, 1998). This appealed to the audience as it would make those supporting the discrimination of people of color feel pain and desist their discrimination practices.
Pathos is also evident in Martin Luther's speech as he wanted to trigger emotions among the audience and inspire them to feel the need to take action against the institutions discriminating against people of color. Martin tells the audience of an incident when he was stabbed with a blade by a woman and was taken to the hospital for the removal of the blade. The story is crucial in raising the audience's anger and feeling that they were all at risk. However, he uses the story to show hope for equality in the community when he tells of the white girl who is sorry about his misfortune. Indeed, while reading this part of the speech, I became sad because of what had happened to Martin. His strat

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