The Comparison and Contrast of "A Dream Deferred "and "Dream Variations"

Essay by jagamishHigh School, 11th gradeA-, November 2006

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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...