The Imagery of Langston Hughes’s Harlem
“What happens when dreams are deferred?” is the first line in Langston Hughes’s “Harlem,” a very interesting social commentary on Harlem in the early 1950’s. It talks about a “dream deferred” Harlem, which was a haven for literature and intellect in the late 20’s and early 30’s, but has become run down and faded to a shadow of its former existence. Langston Hughes’s “Harlem” is filled with extremely vivid imagery.
“Harlem,” by Langston Hughes uses various examples of imagery that one can relate to. The key to turning words into images is the ability to relate them to common experiences. No matter the person, we all cringe at the thought of rotten meat. “Harlem” contains the line “Does it stink like rotten meat?” Now we as the audience may not know what he is referring to when he asks the question but we all can relate to the stench of rotten meat. What Hughes reffers to is the dream of Harlem which has become lost in the shuffle of the post World War II era. People are no longer searching for the good times that they had searched for in the late 20’s early 30’s during the Great Depression.
Another example of vivid image that Langston Hughes uses in “Harlem” is the depiction of a “festering sore.” Again, everyone can relate and cringe to the image of a contusion, abrasion, or laseration has not been properly taken care of. It oozes puss, stinks, and is extremely...