Death of a Salesman: Symbolism

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Langston Hughes's poem "Dream Deferred" is basically about what happens to dreams when they are put on hold. Hughes probably intended for the poem to focus on the dreams of African-Americans because he originally entitled the poem "Harlem," which is the capital of African American life in the United States; however, it is just as easy to read the poem as being about dreams in general and what happens when people postpone making them come true. Overall, Hughes uses a carefully arranged series of images that suggest that people should not delay their dreams because the more they postpone them, the more the dreams will change and the less likely they will come true.

In the opening of the poem Hughes uses a visual image that compares a dream deferred to a raisin. Hughes asks the question, "Does it [the dream] dry up, Like a raisin in the sun?" (2-3). Here you can see the raisin, which used to be a moist, healthy-looking grape, has shriveled up to become a raisin. Like the raisin, the dream has been on hold for a long time and eventually it has transformed into something very different than it once was. Because they look so different, few people would believe that raisins were once grapes unless they had been told. Similarly, a dream that continues to be postponed will go through a transformation as well-it won't be the same as the original. On the surface, readers may not view the outcome as negative because raisins are valuable on their own. However, Hughes does not stress the taste of the raisin; he emphasizes the fact that a raisin "dries up" or loses its moisture. The comparison of the dream to the withered raisin shows how a dream that is postponed changes dramatically and will not turn out as the person originally intended.

The next image in the poem “fester like” a sore and then run” (3-4) gives you a sense of infection and pain. Comparing the dream to a sore of a body, Hughes suggests that unfulfilled dreams...
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