Harlem Poem Analysis Essay

In general the poetry of Langston Hughes depicts hard life conditions of Afro-Americans, mainly in Harlem. On the whole “Dream Deferred” bristles with regret and dismay of Black population in Harlem. The feeling of disappointment and seriousness of the problem strengthens with every stanza. However in order to understand poems better, it is important to know the background. That is to say it’s better to find out more about life and work of the poet himself. The idea of “A Dream Deferred” can be understood through the history of Harlem. In fact Harlem became incredibly overfilled with black population in a short period of time. The whites rapidly left the area. In this way Hughes writes about Harlem turning into completely Negro but poor city. People were not aware of how they would live there. Many of them were simply dreaming about new better life. But this dream appeared to be deferred. On the hard way to happy life, Negroes faced unpredictable problems, suffered from racial suppression etc. Instead of new opportunities, workplaces, proper life conditions, the blacks had overcome numerous difficulties, but the dream remained just a dream. And it couldn’t come true anyway. In this way the poem of Hughes is a desperate note about dream which will hardly ever come true. The last stanza gives symbolic impression.

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A desperate dream may come to the end in different ways. It may turn into something else, disappear or even explode. The last statement shows the possibility of revolutionary actions, from the side of those who can tolerate no more. It is for those, who have been suppressed for ages and have no more strength to endure. I consider that the main theme of the poem is anyway optimistic. In spite of desperation, the author still hopes for the best, as the dream is just delayed. Everyone has his own hopes, certain expectations of future life. Everyone tends to achieve certain results in life. In this way it is possible to say that we live for dream’s sake, some of which become common. On the one hand Langston Hughes’ poem shows how people need freedom and equality. But on the other hand it makes us pessimistic and desperate, when trying to achieve the goal. We approach the dream, but then realize how far it is still.

The first stanza “What happens to a dream deferred?” introduces possible reactions of people, whose dreams can’t come into life. The author shows similarity between raisins and dreams. Like raisins lose their juices in the sun, dreams also lose life activity when being deferred for a long time.

Another symbol concerns the sore which may start festering if the treatment is delayed. What would happen to a dream being delayed? It may sharpen mental pains and dissatisfaction of people. The pains become more intensive. Gradually Hughes comes to the hardest simile in the whole poem. He compares the postponed dream with the rotten meat.

The symbol of sugar means that each idea may be false. When we think that everything’s all right it only hides the real state of things.

In the course of time the more we think about unrealized dream the more it suppresses us and causes pain. As a result we give up the struggle and ‘explode’. The dream may never be revealed. Hughes successfully creates proper symbols to show the natural course of events. That is to say, these are the main steps of unrealized dreams. Each of them is harder than the previous one. We try to realize our dream. But them we understand it is impossible and all ambitions explode at once. The more we strive, the more painful it would be to fall.

On the whole Hughes’ poem is an effective example of desperate dreams and expectations. Reality differs much from what we are thinking about in our minds. We can imagine whatever we like but hardly anything would come true. Harley is a vivid example of this statement. Dreams for better life turned into eternal sufferings, poverty and misery of people. Hugh’s poem is a poem for all times. Everyone pursues happiness in life, but not much people objectively analyze chances of its realization. There are dreams which may be delayed forever. My personal attitude is that it makes the impression from this poem even more depressive. All those symbols become more and more painful with each stanza. In this way it causes deep and indelible impact on readers.
It could thus be said that all of us live a dream.
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