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Characteristics Of The Harlem Renaissance In The Works Of Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, And Claude Mc Kay

1516 words - 6 pages

The Harlem Renaissance took place between 1919 and 1935; it was a movement that included literary arts, specifically the portrayal of black life from a realistic view; it is known as one of the most influential movements as it was the development of the African American culture (Hutchinson 1). In the renaissance blacks essentially made a new identity for themselves; known as the “new negro”, this included no longer allowing whites to treat them as if they were not humans; additionally they would breakdown the stereotypes of blacks and not let whites dictate them because of their color, past, or financial status (Morgan 214). The Harlem Renaissance is fundamentally a group of black literati, such as writers, poets, etc. that got together and decided to change the perception of blacks amongst whites in order to prove to whites that blacks could be just as capable as them in life. Some of the writers involved in the renaissance were poets, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and Claude McKay; in these poets works there are distinctive characteristics of the Harlem Renaissance that are present. The main characteristics that all three writers include in their works is social activism
Langston Hughes was a poet in the Harlem Renaissance; he was a communist, this meant that he preached equality; he is also one of the most known poets of the renaissance. One of the main characteristics in Hughes’s works is the allusions he uses to refer to black history; these allusions are used in many of his works, for example, in “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” Hughes writes “I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young. / I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep. / I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it. / I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans” (“The Negro Speaks” 4-7,) this allusion that Hughes uses refers to the history of black people and it shows how black people have suffered for a long time yet they are still fighting despite how much blacks have suffered; this gets his point of inequality across to the reader as it shows blacks have never been treated equally to whites. Hughes also includes an allusion in his poem “Mother to Son,” in which he refers to the Black Migration; Hughes uses another allusion in “I, Too” where he refers to slavery by writing “I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen/ When company comes” (“I, Too” 2-3). By using allusions Hughes expresses how despite going through years of being mistreated blacks are still around and are still working towards equality. Another characteristic Langston Hughes uses to express equality is the theme of black being beautiful despite what is said by society when they say that black cannot be beautiful; he shows this theme in the poem “I, Too” when he says, “They’ll see how beautiful I am/ And be ashamed” (“I, Too” 16), this is presenting how Langston Hughes is going against the stereotypes that being black is not...

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