Essays on Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes is considered a poet laureate by many, his works are steeped in the richness of African American culture, exude affection, and reflect a sincere commitment to the ideals of social and political justice.

The Life and Works of Langston Hughes
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During the Harlem Renaissance, writers such as Zora Neal Hurston and Langston Hughes gained fame and respect for their ability to express the Black American experiences in their works. Langston Hughes was one of the most original and versatile of the twentieth-century black writers. Influenced by Laurence Dunbar, Carl Dandburg, and his grandmother, Carrie Mercer Langston Hughes, Langston Hughes began writing creatively while still a boy. Born in Joplin Missouri, Langston Hughes lived with both his parents until they separated…...
Langston Hughes
What Consistencies of Style and Theme do Langston Hughes?
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Langston Hughes uses numerous themes throughout his poetry. Some significant themes that can be seen in his works are music, dignity, racism, survival, dreams, collective memory, and American identity. My analysis concentrates on three main themes that are common in his poems. These themes are dreams, collective memory, and American identity. These three themes helped Hughes intensify the meaning of his poems, Aunt Sue's Stories, I, Too, and Harlem. Hughes brought the struggles African Americans faced in America, and he…...
Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes and the Renaissance of Black Womanhood
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Born in Joplin, Missouri, in 1902, Langston Hughes said, “My earliest memories of written words were those of W.E.B. Du Bois and the Bible.” In 1919, in an essay called “The Damnation of Women,” W.E.B Dubois wrote that “women have been frankly trodden under the feet of men,” but of women themselves he stated that “None have been more sweetly feminine, more unswervingly loyal, more desperately earnest, and more instinctively pure in body and in soul than the daughters of…...
Langston Hughes
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The Cultural Impact of Langston Hughes
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A lot of people like poetry while others despise it. Is it because it’s a list of words and sentences so, they don’t bother to read it because they might not like to read? Although some people might hate poetry others love it for its the use of a form of speech to cover an ongoing issue. It is used to talk to other people in a specific style depending on the writer. In this case, it’s Langston Hughes. Hughes…...
Harlem RenaissanceLangston HughesRacism
What Happens to a Deferred Dream?
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A dream is a goal in life, not simply dreams experienced during sleep. Each individual has a type of dream as well as objectives. At the point when fantasy doesn't workout, it won't leave unobtrusively, however it will change into whatever it should be with the end goal for you to discover what life should resemble for you. Your fantasies won't bite the dust. You will locate another fantasy or a changed dream. This is the reason we mustn't turn…...
DreamLangston Hughes
Personas in the Poems of Langston Hughes
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Consistently representative of the Black American race, Langston Hughes wrote about the life of the Blacks—their hopes and dreams, sufferings, and freedom. Specifically, his poems suggest how the Blacks lived during the author’s time. Although most of his works are mostly devoted to the life of the Blacks, the author used different personas in his poems. Particularly, in “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” and “Theme for English B,” we see that although both poems are reminiscent of the hope and…...
Langston HughesPoemsTruth
Langston Hughes – Poem
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I struggled with choosing a topic for my research paper but after some recent events that occurred in my life, I found Langston to be a good fit. I have chosen some of his political poems which I think best fit time we are living in right now. The Harlem Renaissance also called The Golden Age in the African American culture. It was the development of the neighborhood of Harlem in the early 20th Century. It to the social and…...
DreamHarlem RenaissanceLangston HughesPoems
The Importance of Aspirations – a Comparison of Jacob Lawrence and Langston Hughes
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Aspirations. We all have them, yet they are different for every one of us. For some, their goals might include wealth and social status, while others may focus on goals based on family. Although most people share similar ideas of what they want their life to be, the specific details in our goals are what separate us from the rest of the world. No achievement is necessarily better than the other, and nobody can make a universal decision on which…...
Career AspirationsComparisonGreedLangston Hughes
Early Morning by Langston Hughes
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Langston Hughes, “Early Autumn” he uses setting to reveal how Bill and Mary once felt about each other. Hughes uses Washington Square as their running into each other place. This illustrates that this is a small world after all. You never know who you will run into at any point in time. Bill doesn’t realize that it’s Mary, because she had aged so much compared to him. This states that it has been a long time since she left him…...
Langston Hughes
The Corruption of the American Dream
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Dreams are what humans see as their guides through their lives or their individual goals which they must work a lifetime for to achieve. In Langston Hughes’ poem, Dream Deferred, he asks rhetorical questions about how a withheld dream can corrupt and negatively change the mind of a man. The poem relates to the movie, “A Raisin in the Sun (2008)” by Kenny Leon, since the movie answers the rhetorical questions in the poem by showing scenes of how the…...
A Raisin In The SunAmerican DreamCorruptionLangston Hughes
Author’s Bindings
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To Langston Hughes, Harlem was much more than just a geographical location, for the author the city was an entity in itself. During the rebirth of Harlem, there was electricity, a resonance that was clear to those residing there. Harlem was the centre of black life in New York City. It was alive with jazz and importantly the mood was one of progress, hope, and possibility. Harlem was its own music, its own place and Hughes and others were well…...
Book ReviewHopeLangston HughesMusicNovelsPoems
Langston Hughes Poetry
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A lot of people like poetry while others despise it. Is it because it's a list of words and sentences so, they don't bother to read it because they might not like to read? Although some people might hate poetry others love it for its use of a form of speech to cover an ongoing issue. It is used to talk to other people in a specific style depending on the writer. In this case, it's Langston Hughes. Hughes knew…...
Langston HughesPoetry
Ivette AranaEnglish IIIPeriod 2American DreamsLangston Hughes and
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Ivette AranaEnglish IIIPeriod: 2American DreamsLangston Hughes and Walt Whitman were great poets. They wrote a poem about the American Dream but with two different perspectives. Walt Whitman asserts that America is an ideal nation for everyone. "I Hear America Singing" by Walt Whitman was published in 1966. Whitman describes the people who make up America, how people enjoy their jobs, how proud they are, the workers all sing loud and strong as they work. Also, he shows the opportunities they…...
American DreamEnglishLangston HughesPeriodWalt Whitman
Themes and Issues in the Poetry of Langston Hughes and Elizabeth Bishop
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Just like a swallow, Bishop's Sandpiper is a migratory species that will fly incredible distances, however, both poets use allegorical examples of their respective birds to provide Anthropomorphism in the two different poems. The swallows indicate Sheers use of words in relation to writing or creativity such as 'script', 'ink' and 'signatures' (10, 11) to show a sense of unending continuity as they commit to creating shapes and patterns in their movements, much like the poet who is writing and…...
Elizabeth BishopLangston HughesLiterature
Religion in Salvation By Langston Hughes
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What is religion? Religion is a concept that is passed down like tradition from generation to generation. In most cases most people are introduced to religion in their younger years. During those years, adolescent ideas of religion are undeveloped, and they are susceptible to being conditioned with certain religious identities that can be a very pressuring and life changing decision. It may impact their life forever. There are many different beliefs in the world today. Most of these religions claim…...
DeceptionLangston HughesReligionSalvation
A Comparative Analysis Of Langston Hughes’s The Negro Speaks Of Rivers And Sandra Cisneros’s House On Mango Street
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The House on Mango StreetHistory repeats itself in more ways than one and this statement reigns true for almost all aspects of life and this especially holds true with war. Over and over again we see destruction promises of repair and then many decades later another war emerges with the same carnage and promises. The most famous example of this would be Napoleon invading Russia and Hitler invading Russia and the outcome was the same for both men and armies.…...
Comparative AnalysisLangston HughesRiverSandra CisnerossThe House On Mango Street
The Negro Speaks of Rivers
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“The Negro Speaks of Rivers” is Langston Hughes’s most anthologized poem. Hughes wrote this brief poem in fifteen minutes in July, 1920, while crossing the Mississippi on a train ride to visit his father in Mexico. It is one of Hughes’s earliest poems, and its subject established the emphasis of much of his subsequent poetry. Hughes’s poems may be divided into several categories: protest poems, social commentary, Harlem poems, folk poems, poems on African and negritude themes, and miscellaneous poetry…...
Langston HughesPoetryRiver
Perspective on Race Theme for English B
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The poem “Theme for English B” is based on an assignment the speaker receives from his college English class. He is told to write a page about whatever comes to his mind as long as it’s true. Hughes, however, portrays the writer’s dilemma and uncertainty about what to write and what is necessarily true. Ultimately, the author provides a wide of range of audiences, from the African American youth to college students today, with a glimpse of how he perceives…...
EnglishHarlem RenaissanceLangston HughesPoetryRace
Langston Hughes’ “Montage of a Dream Deferred”
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Published in 1951, Langston Hughes’ “Montage of a Dream Deferred” is a collection of poetry which explores the theme of racism and utilizes rhythm to make the pieces almost musical. The work “Harlem” quickly became one of the most popular of the anthology. Later the title was changed to “Dream Deferred”, but in analyzing the poem, it is easier to understand in context of its original title. Although the poem was popular with Hughes’ fans, who continued to appreciate the…...
DreamLangston HughesPoetry
“Thank You M’am” by Langston Hughes
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“Thank You M’am” by Langston Hughes is a story of a middle-aged woman, Mrs. Jones, meets with a boy, Roger, who attempts to steal money from her. Anyway before she got robbed, she catches the boy and chooses to give him a lesson of his life. Mrs. Jones is presented as a thoughtful, trustful and good-hearted woman. Part 1 Firstly, Mrs. Jones characterized as thoughtful woman who understands teenage requests and problems. She helps a teenage boy who needs help. In quote “You could of asked me.” She shows her charity to Roger that if he asked politely instead of attempt to steal…...
Langston Hughes
“One Friday Morning” by Langston Hughes
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The short story “One Friday Morning” by Langston Hughes is about a young African American girl, Nancy Lee, who recently moved to the north with her parents so they may provide her with a better life and schooling. Extremely talented in watercolor painting, she aspired to make that her major in college. Because of racial discrimination, she was denied the scholarship that would have been her ticket to a brighter future. Sadly, there are some people in the world that…...
Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes Poem “Harlem” Analysis
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Langston Hughes brief poem, "Harlem," looks for to comprehend what takes place to a dream when it is postponed. Hughes utilizes vibrant images and similes to make an effort to explain what the consequences are to a dream that is lost. He attempts to bring to the attention the life of a Negro and how many dreams are put off to the side due to the fact that of bias versus African Americans. The tone, images, and diction of Langston…...
DreamLangston HughesPoemsPoliticsSense
“Salvation” by Langston Hughes Analysis
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“Salvation” is an account of a young boy of twelve of his experience with his faith. It tells the story of a Langston who at this impressionable young age, became confused by the accounts of the other members of this congregation and his own personal experience with salvation. The setting of this story is in a healing mass, in a gathering of the faithful, headed by the priests to celebrate salvation. It depicts a set of frenzy to the point…...
Langston HughesSalvation
Langston Hughes: Harlem a Dream Deferred
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A dream cast aside can rankle a person’s will in the deepest of ways. It tends to permeate their every thought and becomes an unshakable burden. In the poem “Harlem (A Dream Deferred)” by Langston Hughes, the language used describes how a suspended goal can frustratingly linger. The writer first poses a question: “What happens to a dream deferred?” He then compares a postponed dream to a dried up raisin or a festering sore, giving a reader the idea of…...
DreamLangston Hughes
The Importance of Determination
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Everyday people face challenges, but it is important that one does not give up, and to keep trying until they successfully overcome the obstacles that stand in their way. “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes and “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou are two different works written by two different authors yet they both convey the same message. Together, the two authors stress the significance of pushing harder when faced with conflicts rather than simply giving up. Using figurative language…...
Book ReviewBooks And ReadingGritLangston HughesLinguisticsLiterary Genre
Poetry’s Influences on the Harlem Renaissance
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Racial equality has been the topic of many works for centuries. Many of those works weren’t written by those actually affected by inequality. During the 1920’s African Americans began to express their opinions on the issue more frequently through the arts. Poetry was among the most prominent forms of art used for spreading equality and justice. Poets like Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and Claude McKay wrote many poems that spoke on equality in society. African Americans felt betrayed after the…...
Harlem RenaissanceInfluenceLangston HughesPoetry
Analysis of a Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes
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This poem by Langston Hughes is a very complicated. In it the speaker paints a picture of what might happen to someone’s dream if it is postponed too long. This idea is the overall theme of the poem and it is what unifies and connects each line to the poem as a whole. There are also indirect references that this is not only the dream of an individual, but an entire race’s struggle to achieve peace and liberation. This poem…...
DreamLangston Hughes
A Harlem Renaissance Poem by Langston Hughes
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The Harlem Renaissance took place in 1920s to the mid 1930s, it happened in New York City and it was a cultural bloom. The literary and artistic movement spurred a new black cultural identity. The reason why it occurred was because after the civil war the former slaves all went and lived in the same area, and that was the area where people started creating their own art and literary to define who they were. During the Harlem Renaissance the…...
Harlem RenaissanceLangston HughesPoemsPoetry
Langston Hughes Poems Analysis
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Langston Hughes purpose of these sets of poems was to outline the current condition for African Americans at that time, and also to display his desires and present the ideal conditions for African Americans. Below are several of his poems that has symbology and reflects and demonstrates his desires and ideals. In my opinion, Dream Variations demonstrates Hughes desire for African Americans to be able to enjoy the pleasures of life as white people did. When he says “to whirl…...
Langston HughesPoems
A Poem Mother to Son by Langston Hughes
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Oftentimes, individuals come across issues in their lives and need advice and motivation in order to preserve a sense of optimism. By using figurative language and images, Langston Hughes's poem, "Mother to Child," illustrates the style that despite the battles individuals may encounter in their lives, she or he need to have the will power and strength to live resiliently and persevere through hardships with dignity and courage. The speaker's nurturing tone even more compliments the style, as the mother…...
Langston HughesPoems
Analysis of Harlem Renaissance Poetry by Langston Hughes’
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Langston Hughes wrote the poem, “I, Too” in the midst of the Harlem Renaissance, a period of Black American history which brought to light unique views of the world through the eyes of a people who were often subjugated and downtrodden. Issues of racial prejudice were prevalent during the Harlem Renaissance and segregation a fact of life. In the poem, “I,Too,” Hughes brings attention to this subjugation by portraying the life of a black male servant. He puts forth his…...
Harlem RenaissanceLangston HughesPoetry
“A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes
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The poem A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes basically describes what happens to dreams when they are put on hold. The speaker in the poem originally entitled it Harlem, which is the capital of African-American life in the United States. The title was changed to accommodate all dreams in general, and what happens when people postpone making them come true. The speakers attitude toward the poem is an advice-giving attitude. The poet doesnt want people to postpone getting what they…...
DreamLangston HughesPoetry
The Poem “Mother to Son”
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An Explication of Langston Hughes' "Mother to Son" Langston Hughes once stated in his own words that his whole purpose for writing was, "to explain and illuminate the Negro condition in America." In the poem "Mother to Son", he denotes his belief on racism in America. In "Mother to Son", a mother is giving advice to her son about life from her perspective and experiences. She wants her son to keep striving on what he believes and to have a…...
Langston HughesPoems
“I, Too Sing America” by Langston Hughes
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Poem "I, Too Sing America " is considered to be very characteristic for radical poetry of Langston Hughes. The majority of literary critiques and historians refer to Hughes as one of the first American poets, who set the standards and examples how to challenge the post-World War I ethnic nationalism. His poetry contributed and shaped to some extent the politics of the Harlem Renaissance. In analysis of Black poetry Charles S. Johnson wrote that the new racial poetry of the…...
AmericaCultureLangston HughesPoetry
“Theme For English B” by Langston Hughes
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"Theme for English B" begins with some words of a college professor instructing his students to write a paper that "will be true." After this is said the speaker questions if this assignment is really "that simple." As he reflects on his life before writing his assignment, he enlightens the reader of his current status in America. He is a mere "twenty-two, colored" college student; more importantly he is the "only colored student" in his class. After approaching the "Harlem…...
EnglishLangston HughesRacism
Salvation by Langston Hughes
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After reading the excerpt from Langston Hughes's autobiography, "Redemption", I contemplated the many elements of religious beliefs and what makes a person think in god or not think in god. I believe that religious beliefs is a kind of specific expression, and that each individual needs to have the liberty to adhere his/her identity to whatever religious beliefs feels ideal to that individual, or even to comply with no faith at all. I believe that if I had actually been…...
BeliefLangston HughesSalvation
A Comparison of Two Poems by Black Poets
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Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes are two of the most acknowledged African American poets of the Harlem Renaissance. Countee Cullen's "Yet Do I Marvel" and Langston Hughes' "I, Too" are equivalent poems in that their similar styles are representational of the authors' personal adversities of racial inequality. By comparing these two poems, we get a glimpse of the reality of the injustices of bigotry throughout the 1920's by 2 popular Black poets. Cullen and Hughes were born within a year…...
ComparisonHarlem RenaissanceLangston HughesPoemsPoetryPoets
Langston Hughes and the Civil Rights Movement
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During the early 1930s many black writers begin to produce works that helped to shape and define the Civil Rights movement. Among them was Langston Hughes whose poems and writing contributed directly to the rhetoric of the day and inspired many African-Americans, both in and out of the Civil Rights movement. Much of this grew out of what was called the Harlem Renaissance, which emerged during turbulent times for the world, the United States, and black Americans. World War I…...
Civil RightsCivil Rights MovementHarlem RenaissanceLangston Hughes
Poetry Analysis of the poem “I, Too” by Langston Hughes
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The poem I, Too, written by Langston Hughes, uses excellent language, vivid imagery and strong sounds to express the poet's feelings towards racism. I, Too is an anti-discrimination poem, which shows the injustice of racism. The poem is very effective because of its genuine emotions. The poem is situated in America and describes a black man's personal experience with racial discrimination. He is treated as if he is an embarrassment to the white people, and made to feel inferior to…...
Langston HughesPoemsPoetryRacism
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Still to others, he is, above all his political claims, the author of often touching lyrical beauty. However, Langston Hughes remains to this day a controversial name in the history of American poetry. To some, Hughes’s style is far too simple and unlearned; his content too radically political and offensive to their sense of patriotism (or capitalism). Following the Emancipation Act in 1862 and the end of the Southern Reconstruction in 1877, “Jim Crowe” laws were used to enforce racial segregation and became widely-used in the South. To escape these racist laws, millions of southern blacks moved to the urban centers of the North immediately after World War I in hopes of achieving their own “American Dream”.

As Langston Hughes wrote from his point of view as an early twentieth century black American, this dream was denied to the very people whose hard work had made that dream even possible through cultural and systemic racism. In the 1930s, in his response to the Great Depression and the Great Migration, features of Hughes work radicalized as he began to emphasize the need for sudden, political action. During this period, Hughes wrote some of his most radical poems, as well as some of the most poignant lamentations of the chasm between American social ideals and American social reality, as in his 1935 masterpiece, “Let America Be America Again”. Hughes begins his poem by immediately introducing the reader to the conflict between American ideals and the realities of being a black American in the early 20th century:His use of the word “again” (1) implies America is not living up to the ideals it was founded on, a set of principles such as democracy, equal rights, and liberty which included the opportunity for social mobility achieved through hard work to gain success.

Hughes explicitly points at America’s hypocritical treatment of minority Americans by creating a tension between the contradicting lines, “Let it be the dream it used to be” (2) and “(America never was America to me.)” (5). The American dream is a largely internalized belief that through hard work and persistence, individuals can better their own and their families lives with enough determination. However, as revealed by line 5, Hughes does not believe this is true for anyone outside of the majority. Especially in the early 20th century, the American ideals of equality, liberty and freedom just did not apply for anyone outside of a select group and therefore, did not seem real to those outside of it.In the second stanza, Hughes calls on America’s sense of duty to become the nation it aspired to be when founded, starting with line 6, “Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed-”. He recalls America’s origins of great men who freed themselves from an oppressive British regime, who fought and won against the empowered who tried to take from the everyday man through taxation without representation.

While Hughes speaks of America fondly as “that great strong land of love” (7), he acknowledges that men in control have the power to deprive others’ of opportunities as in line 8, “That any man be crushed by one above”. He ends the stanza by repeating the same verse as line 5, “(It never was America to me.)” (Hughes). Despite the founding fathers’ noble intentions, America has never been the America they dreamed of for him or millions of subjugated others. Hughes continues elaborating on the liberty he and other minorities have been deprived of in the third stanza. An individual’s right to liberty, the freedom to pursue what one wishes regardless of race or religious creed, is a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution and a fundamental belief of the American ethos. Hughes uses the concrete crown worn by the Statue of Liberty as a metaphor for the abstract concept of liberty. The Statue of Liberty is an American symbol, she represents hope for immigrants seeking to improve their lives. More importantly, the Statue of Liberty stands at Ellis Island, which at the time was the welcoming site for most incoming immigrants. Hughes explains the Statue should offer real, patriotic hope and promise rather than remaining a cheap, feel-good crown. In the fourth stanza, Hughes repeats his message that equality does not exist for him as it may for others.

Through imagery in lines 17 and 18, he uses the stars at night to represent hope and equality which have been blocked or made unavailable to him by a “veil” (18). He has been cut off from freedom and left in the dark. In this stanza, Hughes personalizes the victimized masses described in his work. Hughes points out that freedom is not just limited to himself or other black Americans, but to all vulnerable and minority groups. Poor whites, African Americans, American Indians, and immigrants have all been ostracized by America’s majority power.In the sixth stanza, Hughes communist beliefs begin to emerge.

The main point of this stanza is that Hughes feels America has become a wealth-obsessed nation, at the cost of others’ lives and well-being. Hughes observations can be contextualized as a response to the Great Depression during which he had written this poem, as he felt America had become obsessed with “owning everything for one’s own greed!” (30). In this stanza, Hughes gives a face to the people for whom the American dream was a never a dream. In lines 37 and 38, he makes clear that in spite of their hard work and determination, these people will never become successful or have their American dreams realized. In the eighth stanza (lines 39-50), Hughes personalizes the poem through his repetitious use of “I”. He starts the stanza, “I’m the one…” (39); continuing “I’m the man…” (45); “I meant” (46); “I came” (49). Whether they came voluntarily or were forced, whether from Africa or England or Ireland, these men and their work made the American dream possible. Hughes argues all should have a “homeland of the free.” (50) regardless of origin. Hughes dramatically emphasizes his point again in line 51 when he separates a two-word question from the other stanzas entirely. Its simplicity only makes the question all the more powerful when Hughes asks, “The free?” (51). This assumed, core American value is at stake; the very thing which each American is misled to believe true, or even guaranteed by birthright, is questioned by Hughes. The verse is powerful and precise, as if the writer himself asks the reader: but are we really? Unabashedly, Hughes uses sarcasm to guide the reader along in answering his own question for the rest of the stanza. Line by line, he speaks of the “millions” (2, 4) who have known nothing but struggle, work; and despite their hope and flying flags, they “have nothing” (59) except for dreams that are “almost dead.” (60).

Within the second to last stanza, Hughes shows his patriotism and hope for America. He ends the stanza with lines 79 and 80, “And yet I wear this oath-/America will be!”. Although America was never the land of opportunity it promises to be for Hughes, he shows a true sense of ownership and duty to the country by stating that it could be. To volunteer the effort and struggle it requires to transform a condition (what something currently is) into one’s criteria (ideal or standard of what it should be) takes commitment and work. Hughes shows a true sense of hope and belief in the country which has disappointed him and so many others in the past. Hughes ends his poem in the last stanza, claiming powerfully in lines 83 and 86, “We, the people, must redeem/[…]/And make America great again!”. He acknowledges that America could become the great promise it has failed to fulfill, but only with the hard work and dedication of its people. Not by only the majority or only the ostracized minorities, but both, together as one American people.

FAQ about Langston Hughes

What Consistencies of Style and Theme do Langston Hughes?
...The poem “Harlem” by Langston Hughes, is an example of several poems he wrote regarding accomplishing one's dreams. This was written originally for the African American community, this poem addresses the idea of what happens when you don’t go a...
What Happens to a Deferred Dream?
...Shortly, I can’t travel around the world to see Europe, South America, and go back home to Mexico so I feel like an explosion or rotten meat. My dream of traveling is deferred until I gain my residency. Just like a dream of African-Americans to get...

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