Figurative Language In Harlem By Langston Hughes

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Harlem: A Dream Deferred Should we ever delay the inevitable? Postponing one's dreams does not make them less desirable; but the opposite, it causes damage and ruin. Slaves had been free for just about 90 years and still were not being treated equally when the poem Harlem by Langston Hughes was written. He uses imagery, figurative language, and symbols to show what happens to a community when a vision or hope for it, is pushed aside. It is often said that symbols in the text of a writing can convey tone and meaning. First of all, the title Harlem, is a symbol in itself. This places the poem in a specific location. In this case, Harlem, a historically black neighborhood in New York City. This title evokes the racial injustice that the citizens …show more content…

From the text, he uses the image of a “festering sore” to express the consequences of deferred dreams (Hughes, 4). This paints a grotesque picture for readers and shows the disgust that Hughes feels. On top of that, he uses the image of rotten meat, indicating a piece of meat left to rot, getting worse and worse. Furthermore, he states that it will “crust and sugar over,” and people will become used to living in a separate society and it will become normalized (Hughes, 7). He then proceeds to give his own pov and says, “Maybe it just sags, like a heavy load,” and this shows that he feels the weight of the many years he and his ancestors would wait for others to see them as equal (Hughes, 9-10). He uses the power of imagery in determining if deferred dreams sag like heavy loads. That can put an image out of an individual being exhausted and carrying a burden all alone, which is unfair. The dream of inequality weighs on communities like Harlem, dragging them down rather than lifting them up. In the last sentence, he implies that only one person can carry such a weight for so long and years after tolerating this type of behavior can lead one to explode or become overly angry. The word usage is a symbol of something like a firework, that can’t be bottled up …show more content…

This poem contains a series of five similes to describe what might happen to a dream or vision that is constantly pushed off to the side. There is also anaphora used that provides a recognizable structure and pattern (Does it, like, or, does it, or, like). In addition, a metaphor is used to compare a deferred dream to something blowing up, which suggests violence and/or self-harm, alliteration creates rhythm and emphasizes the words, drawing attention to the details in them (repetition of the sound “d”), the last line uses hyperbole which exaggerated the severity of the potential consequences of denying the dream of social equality. Taking everything into account, the figurative language creates an empowering image of what can happen when a wish or dream is left

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