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The Comparison And Contrast Of "A Dream Deferred "And "Dream Variations"

916 words - 4 pages

Today when people hear Harlem they run for cover. However, in the early 20th century, Harlem was a great opportunity for many black people in America. Unfortunately, because of overcrowding, exploitation, and poverty, their dream of a better life was delayed. Many poems written by Langston Hughes, an African American poet, reflect this situation. Hughes uses intense tone and diction to aid in the unearthing of the tribulations of the blacks in North America at the time period of the 20th century. These situations are most evident in the poems A dream deferred, and dream variation.In the poem "A Dream Deferred", Hughes uses an angry and serious tone. This anger elevates into hatred and thoughts of rebellion. Hughes begins his poem in a questioning tone: "What happens to a dream deferred?" (Hughes "A Dream Deferred" 1st stanza) He quickly answers this question through a series of similes and metaphors to accentuate feelings of anger. For instance, Hughes uses a simile to describe a dream deferred "Does it stink like rotten meat?"(Hughes "A Dream Deferred" stanza 6) Here, Hughes uses the morbid example of rotten meat to symbolize the failure of the dream of moving to Harlem as a sickening image of shattered hopes and dreams. In addition, he uses another ominous example "Or does it fester like a sore?" (Hughes "A Dream Deferred" Stanza 4) This is exactly what the whole poem is about. The consequence of a dream deferred or delayed, as Hughes describes it, is like the delay of treating a sore, of which the outcome is worsened by infection or serious complications. This analogy is complementary to the situation in Harlem; after the dream of a better life, black Americans were left to fester into poverty. The tone is then accentuated by the poet's final question in the poem: "Or does it explode?" (Hughes "A Dream Deferred"Stanza11) The emphasis on this line is apparent since like first line of the poem, this line is a question by itself unaccompanied by any similes or metaphors.On the other hand, in his poem "Dream Variations", the tone used is optimistic; the reason is because the poem is based on hope. Even though the both poems are still about the failure of the dream of the black people of America, the narrator of "Dream Variation" has not given up hope. He paints happy images of the dream, for black Americans have feelings of freedom and happiness, as indicated in the poem by making reference to dancing: "To whirl and dance"( Hughes "Dream Variation" stanza 3) This poem might not show the troubles of blacks blatantly. However, by insinuating there is a desire to or wish to dance, Hughes is showing us that...

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