Analysis of the Speeches of Legendary Figures

Most of the greatest speech that is given often comes out of great leaders when there is a national crisis or there is a hot topic in society that needs immediate attention. Giving a speech is not easy as it seems and requires a lot of courage from within. One would also need to be experienced and excellent at delivering speeches to a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people. During the late 20th century, giving a speech while being from a minority group required a lot of courage to even stand up and voice out one’s opinion.

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Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the many great leaders during that time. He was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. Growing up in deep south, he had experienced the racial injustice in the US towards African- Americans since he was little. The speech “I Have A Dream” was given on August 28, 1963 during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (Biography). After he gave his, “I have a dream speech” he was considered to be amongst the best leaders in history. Even today people still talk about the significance of his speech and that just shows how much it influenced the decisions made during the Civil Rights Movement.

Nelson Mandela born on July 8, 1918 in Mvezo, South Africa. He had a rough childhood. His dad died when he was only 12 years old. He got expelled while trying to complete his BA for joining a student protest. Nelson Mandela was an excellent speaker who really caught the attention of his audience once he stood up on the podium to give a speech (Biography). His “Address in Cape Town” is also considered one of the greatest speech given alongside King’s speech. He gave this speech after his release from prison to the people of South Africa who stood up and was still fighting to do away with apartheid. These two speeches played crucial roles in helping both of their groups fight against discrimination and getting their voice heard. `

Martin Luther King Jr. makes excellent use of ethos throughout his speech. When King opens ups up in his second paragraph stating, “Five score years ago… Emancipation Proclamation.” It showed that many people looked up to Abraham Lincoln like he did and saw him as a role model. He did this to show that he grew up following someone who was diligent and supported the cause African-Americans were fighting for. One other example where he used ethos was when he said, “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.”(King). He is connecting to his audience not only as a person of the same color of skin but also as a father who wishes his children will have a better future as a result of the Civil Right Movement. He used ethos to connect with his audience well and give them some sense of hope that good things will come.

Nelson Mandela makes excellent use of ethos to connect with his audience through his speech. He opens up greeting his audience with respect and at the same time addresses what was missing from the society. He said,“Friends, comrades, and fellow South Africans. I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy, and freedom for all”(Mandela). During the time he gave his speech, South Africa was not a peaceful state nor was there any proper form of democracy within. The people had little freedom as to what the could do. Mandela knowing these things addressed his people in that way to assure them that everything was going to workout, and they should continue to fight. In one part of his speech he says,“I am convinced that your pain… greater than mine”(Mandela). What he meant by this was that the native of South Africa suffered from the apartheid and went through a great deal of suffering than he did when he was in prison. He showed his sympathy for his people who went through the trouble of trying to get rid of apartheid.

Logos in speeches makes it more reliable and believable in some way. King had a couple of logos in his speech so his audience knew what was happening around them. He said, “Five score years ago… Negro still is not free”(King). He is taking the crowd back and reminding how they all hoped slavery would come to an end after the war, but here they are still fighting for their freedom. Another example of logos in his speech is when he says, “When the architects of our republic… “Unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty, and Happiness”. This particular use of logos in King’s speech shows his people of how a fact from the constitution has not taken effect to all African Americans in the United States.

Mandela too had a few logos in his speech to get his people behind him and fight for freedom. Towards the middle of his speech he says, “On the question… national conference”(Mandela). He is reasonable here by saying that it is his duty to point out that a leader should be chosen by the people of the country and by nobody else. Later on he states, “Negotiations cannot take place… a non racial basis”(Mandela). Here he tries to emphasize on how important it is for the people to elect their representative. Someone who is not elected by the people would not understand any of the people’s problems and hence negotiations are of no use if it does not favor the people of the country. During that time in history, South Africans did not have anyone in the government to represent them and have their voices heard. By saying what he said it made the people more willing to fight till the end so that their voice was heard and things would change for good.

King used pathos to make a huge impact on his audience by making them feel determined, empowered and grateful towards the end. In the beginning of his speech he states, “Now is the time… God’s children”(King). He uses imagery to allow his audience to visualize there is a solution and also an end to the problem they were facing. He is making them feel empowered by telling them that everything will change and “Now is the time”. He later on goes on to say, “There will be neither rest nor tranquility… justice emerges”(King). He emphasizes on all the people to work hard to towards the common goal and perfectly conveys pathos since it will make them feel determined to work for their freedom that was not given to them. At the end of speech he says, “The marvelous new militancy… We cannot walk alone”(King). He did this to reassure them about all the people who were fighting for the African American rights and were not people of color and to show their appreciation towards them.

Mandela made great use of pathos of get to the people’s emotions and make them determined to fight for their own respective rights as citizens of South Africa. During the first half of his speech, he says, “The memory of great communists… for generation to come”(Mandela). He was making an appeal to the people in the crowd that day, reminding them about the sacrifices of those threes great people and their contribution towards their fight to do away with apartheid. Towards the end of his first half of speech he states, “Even during the darkest… the flag of liberty high”(Mandela). He did this to thank his supporters and his followers for going through all the hardships in order to fight for their liberty and justice.

King and Mandela are both, without a doubt, considered one of the greatest leaders of all time. They not only had ability to give out a speech in front of thousands of people but also gave speeches full of mixed emotions and kept the audience engaged at all times. They both had a common goal, that was to get rid of racial injustices and their voices to be heard and finally get their freedom(Straziuso). King was able to fully make use of rhetorical analysis in his speech and use it to his full advantage in order to keep his audience engaged and make them understand about the problems. He also brought up the issues in society so that the people knew more about what was going on around them (Manfredonia). Even though Mandela’s speech was good, it was not as convincing or otherwise powerful as compared to King’s speech. There are not a lot of things to contrast between these two speeches as both were great and each played and important role in their respective fight for freedom.

A well-written speech will always include persuasive techniques and rhetorical devices. Both King and Mandela uses ethos, logos, and pathos in order to gain their audience’s trust and attention. Although both speakers use these techniques effectively, King’s use of these rhetorical devices proves to be more effective than Mandela’s. Both speakers, however, are successful in achieving their objectives and delivering a powerful message to their respective audiences. 

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Analysis of the Speeches of Legendary Figures. (2022, Feb 09). Retrieved February 1, 2023 , from

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