06 April 2013
Langston Hughes, a well known American poet, was born and raised in mild poverty and faced many struggles during his childhood and early adulthood. Due to the circumstances surrounding his life, Hughes developed a strong emotional connection to anyone facing struggles, particularly youth growing up in poor areas of American cities, such as New York City's Harlem area. After realizing these connections, Hughes was able to successfully address the difficulties of life and the struggles of the people, through the piece "Harlem”. The use of a distinct voice, beginning with such a strong title, compels the audience to continue through the poem, where we are exposed to strong use of voice, tone, symbolism, word choice, and poetic structure. The first line in the poem bluntly addresses the audience with a strong voice and asks us the question, "What happens to a dream deferred?" This is one of the most compelling ways the audience is addressed by this poem. What does happen if you lose a dream? Where does that energy, fire, and desire go? What, as humans, are we supposed to do with that void? The loss of a dream is one of the biggest losses a person can experience; it is almost the same as the loss of a loved one because people may form strong, emotional ties to their hopes and ambition (Harlem: Analysis). With this in mind, we can assume the speaker is someone who is trying to cope with loss of their dream. The speaker continues into the poem with more questions that use symbolism to dig deeper into the mind of the audience. The lines continue with, "Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?" With this, a tie to Tennessee William's play, "A Raisin in the Sun," is made. Envisioning a raisin in the sun provokes thought of sweltering heat overcoming a plump grape and turning it to a darker, tougher, less viable fruit, but also makes us think of the family in William's play (Harlem: Analysis)....
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