Literary Analysis of American Literature
As Elinor Ostrom explains, “To a great degree, his stories speak for those who are disenfranchised, cheated, abused, or ignored because of race or class. ” Hughes’s stories speak of the downtrodden African-Americans neglected and overlooked by a prejudiced society. The recurring theme of powerlessness is exemplified in his narration “Let America Be America again”, “Harlem” and “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”. Hughes uses rhyme to draw attention to the poetic element of his narration “Let America Be America Again”.
Words such as “be” and “free”, “dreamed and “schemed”, “wreathe” and “breathe” etc. all demonstrate rhyming. The central theme is that the author feels left out of the American Dream. Hughes is writing a poem of someone who feels that America is a land that lives up to begin to add up to that. The tone is angry and resentful. In this poem he is not representing the point of view of one particular group. Hughes conveys that there are many people who’ve come here with hopes and dreams and they’re being let down.
He’s also saying that there is an economic disparity between people. In essence the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer, because there is no equal opportunity. That idea is something that is not real for many people because of their race, economic situation, and come up. The reader is immediately introduced to the fact that the author does not believe that America is all it can be due to the fact that the word again is used. He wants America to be “the dream it used to be. ” But the powerful line is #5 which reads “America was never America. ”
This enhances what many people feel, that Americas ideals of equality, liberty, and land of the free don’t seem real. In a sense there is a positive tone because there is a hope that America can be a “great strong land of love,” O, let my land be a land where liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, But opportunity is real, and life is free, Equality is in the air we breathe. Liberty, which is another word for freedom is important in the dream America holds so preciously. The central message here is one of greed. Money is at the center of what America has become.
Hughes feels that “power, gain” and owning property is the focus. It’s all about money. He says in line #32 to what America has become in his views. “Of owning everything for one’s own greed! ” At the later stage of the poem, Hughes is coming back and saying sarcastically that he wouldn’t say there is freedom. He is speaking for the “millions” of people who have been struggling, hoping, working, flying flags, “who have nothing” except for dreams that are “almost dead. ” “Harlem” by Langston Hughes is a poem that talks about what happens when we postpone our dreams.
The poem is made up of a series of similes and it ends with a metaphor. The objective of the poem is to get us to think about what happens to a dream that is put off, postponed; what happens when we create our very own shelve of dreams? The “dream” refers to a goal in life, not the dreams we have while sleeping, but our deepest desires. There are many ways to understand this poem; it varies from person to person. Someone like me may see this poem as talking about just dreams in general. Others may see it as African-American’s dreams.
Although the meter of “Harlem” varies, the poem has a rhythmic, lyrical quality achieved through alliteration, rhyme, repetition of certain words, and carefully placed stressed syllables. People need to think twice before deferring their dreams. Langston Hughes says it best in his poem Harlem asking the question. What happens to a dream deferred?? Langston Hughes describes the outcome of the question as an altogether bad idea, saying that deferring your dream is “fester like a sore” or “it stinks like rotten meat”.
By using imagery, he wants the reader to know what it is like to defer a dream and how bad it is. The first image in the poem proposes that the dream dries up like a raisin. This simile likens the original dream to a grape, which is round, juicy, green and fresh. Once the dream has lain neglected for too long, it dries up. Where the raisin image invokes the senses of taste and sight, the simile of the sore conveys a sense of touch and bodily impact. By comparing the dream to a sore on the body, Hughes suggests that unfulfilled dreams become part of us, like scars.
In Langston Hughes’ poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” Hughes makes use of some interesting poetic techniques. This poem is written in free verse, at first glance, seems to be unstructured. Hughes repeats words and lines, but does not make use of repeated sounds. Finally, some of his word choices near the end of the poem help to bring the message of the poem across more strongly. These poetic techniques contribute greatly to the quality of the poem. The textual details of the poem invoke strong imagery related to veins, rivers, and the roots of trees and give the reader a sense of the timelessness of these objects.
In the short first stanza, the speaker in the poem by Langston Hughes states that he has “known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins. ” From this early point in the point in the poem, images of the canals of veins that run throughout the human body as well as similar images of rivers that wind around and are shaped like veins form our understanding that this poem is about more than blood or water, it is about roots and circuits. He has a very deep meaning about how people feel by debating that his soul is so much stubborn now at this point that no external source could change it.
Hughes’ poems illustrate many of the problems that African Americans faced during the depression era, ranging from prejudice and discrete racism to a general air of hopelessness and despair. His poetry basically develops the idea of celebrating and idealizing the Negro life in America. He is not much like the other poets who just uses a single voice/entity, instead has a tendency to express the visualizations through a number of voices making it more realistic. His expression consists of renunciation and feelings of personal cruelty.