Allusion is a literal term that is used to note a reference to a certain person, place, event, and other subjects. It can be used directly in speech or the speaker can use allusion as an implication. Use of allusions in speech is one of the basic elements that a strong and skillful orator has to operate. In order to capture the audience’s attention, the speaker chooses the most relevant allusions, which can help to deliver his message in a strong and persuasive form. There are several forms of allusion that can be employed or incorporated in a speech in order to reach the desired effect. Following is a brief analysis of the various kinds of allusion.

Apparent reference allusions are used to make a model easier to memorize,  and they often tend to criticize the figure, to which the allusion was applied. The speaker who refers to his own work employs a self-reference allusion. Corrective allusions are used in order to juxtapose the ideas communicated to the reference used. Single reference allusion is used with an expectation that the audience will relate the referenced model to the context of the speech. Another allusion form is the casual reference allusion. The speaker uses this allusion to communicate information that is not related to the context but that helps the reader or the audience to recall the model. Finally, multiple allusions involve the combination of references to several aspects of social life with the aim of increasing the cultural cohesion. All the types of allusion can have different effects or impressions when used in speech (Thomas, 1986).

Martin Luther King is a famous person in the history of America, celebrated for his contribution in the fight for the minority groups rights. He was born and brought up in the society where racism was prevalent; people were judged by their color. Therefore, he assumed the role of an activist in the society and champion for the rights of the black and minority. One of his world famous works is a speech titled “I have a dream” (Dlugan, 2009). Evaluation of the speech can reveal how Luther managed to use allusions with an aim of catching the audience’s attention and enforcing his message. The speech is full of allusions, but this essay is focused on only two of them .

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Luther has extensively used biblical allusions in his speech. For instance, , King explains a dream of valleys being exalted while mountains and hills being made low. He claims that the rough places would become smoothening, while, at the same time, the crooked places being streamlined (Luther King, 1963). In addition, he approves the manifestation of Lord’s glory to all the individuals irrespective of their differences. The audience was expected to make reference to the book of Isaiah 40:4-5. The scripture in this verse carries the same message as that in Kings Speech. The allusion can be taken to hint the differences in the society in terms of social class. Luther King dreamt of a time when all people would be treated equally and individuals would treat each other well, not paying attention to the skin color. This idea was a strong persuading force, since it is based on the Bible and brings hope to the listeners.

Another allusion in King’s speech is when he claims that all men irrespective of their skin color have equal rights in terms of life, search of contempt and liberty (Luther King, 1963). This allusion was a reference to the American government rules or rather the constitution in the declaration of independence. The allusion carried a message to the people who were treated unjustly. The individuals who heard this information were easy to persuade as this idea had been already mentioned in their constitution. Therefore, the message was more of what that the government had failed to deliver, despite the constitution provision.

The two allusions discussed in this paper portray the choice of references that Luther used in convincing people of his dream. The Bible and the constitution are the two respected references and thus using figures from the two, enhances persuasion (Lucas, 2007).

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