Harlem A Dream Deferred Poem Analysis Essay

The poem A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes basically describes what happens to dreams when they are put on hold. The speaker in the poem originally entitled it Harlem, which is the capital of African-American life in the United States. The title was changed to accommodate all dreams in general, and what happens when people postpone making them come true. The speakers attitude toward the poem is an advice-giving attitude. The poet doesnt want people to postpone getting what they want. The poem is written in an informative/caring tone to help people live the lives they dream of having.

In the opening of the poem, the poet uses a visual image, which is a simile, to compare a deferred dream to a raisin. The speaker asks the question Does it dry up/like a raisin in the sun? (2-3) This phrase creates the image of a raisin that used to be a firm, moist, and healthy-looking grape that has become shriveled up into a raisin. The speaker doesnt emphasize the appearance of the raisin, so it isnt as good of an image as the simile. This image gives an emotional effect of a dream deferred shriveling up and turning dark because the sun has baked it.

The words and phrases, Or fester like a sore(4), and Or crust and sugar over(7) are both symbolic of the hard manual labor that African-Americans had during the early 1900s. Maybe it just sags / like a heavy load(9-10) is a great picture of a dream that sits within a person and weighs there making everything else one does never enough. As the reader puts all of these illusions together, ones own dreams and ideals are brought to the surface just as Hughes brings his poem to a close with style. Or does it explode (11) is the most powerful line of the poem. It is separated from the other lines of the poem and italicized, adding emphasis to it visually. The concept of a dream exploding is a powerful conclusion of what could happen to the poet’s or reader’s dreams if they are pushed aside or unable to be pursued. All in all, this poem is a very universal poem as far as advocating for all types of people.

This poem uses no forms of rhyme or meter, but it does use one form of a sound effect. The one example is the line Or does it explode? (11), in which the word explode gives a strong meaning of sound. The sound affects the sense of the poem by showing that it could all end in a big disastrous bang. The elements that are most important to the poem are the quotes Does it dry up/like a raisin in the sun? (2-3) and Or fester like a sore(4). The elements that contribute least to the poems effectiveness are the quotes And then run? (5) and like a heavy load (10).

The poems title means that people have dreams that they would like to pursue, but obstacles make them keep procrastinating and/or putting them off. The poem means that many people, no matter what race, all have dreams that they would like to have come true, but they just linger around in the back of their minds. I responded to it by agreeing to the whole concept. I have many dreams that I would like to of had come true, but there have been certain obstacles that have gotten in the way. It doesnt remind me of anything in particular, but there are some instances that are similar, such as wanting to drive when I turned 16, but because I took drivers training late, I couldnt. This poem tells me to pursue the dreams that I have if at all possible.

A Dream DeferredBy: Langston HughesWhat happens to a dream deferred?Does it dry uplike a raisin in the sun?Or fester like a sore–And then run?Does it stink like rotten meat?Or crust and sugar over–like a syrupy sweet?Maybe it just sagslike a heavy load. Or does it explode?

“A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes.” CSWNET. 25 June 1996. 25 April 2008 .

Analysis of "Dream Deferred" by Langston Hughes Essay

617 WordsApr 17th, 20063 Pages

Dream Deferred

A dream is a goal in life, not just dreams experienced during sleep. Most people use their dreams as a way of setting future goals for themselves. Dreams can help to assist people in getting further in life because it becomes a personal accomplishment. Langston Hughes's poem "Dream Deferred" is speaks about what happens to dreams when they are put on hold. The poem leaves it up to the reader to decide what dream is being questioned.

In the opening of the poem the speaker uses a visual image that is also a simile to compare a dream deferred to a raisin. "Does it dry up/ like a raisin in the sun?" The simile in the question is comparing a dream deferred to raisin in the sun. Like a raisin, a dream deferred shrivels up…show more content…

As you read further into the poem it allows you to develop a clearer understanding of what Hughes is trying to express in the poem. It is stated that the dream may "crust and sugar over… like a syrupy sweet? He is stating that by not using or putting the dream into use had formed into crust, which is that hard material that is no longer useful because it is no longer pliable. The dream forced to sit idle hardens into an unusable substance of thoughts that have separated themselves from the goals and formed idle destructive thoughts that are crusted over with despair, doubt, anger, and hatred.

Langston Hughes's poem "Dream Deferred" is basically about what happens to dreams when they are put on hold. Hughes probably intended for the poem to focus on the dreams of African-American in particular. However, it is just as easy to read the poem as being about dreams in general and what happens when people postpone making them come true. What I got from the poem was that the longer you put your dreams on hold, the more the dreams will change and the less likely they will come true.


Barksdale, Richard. Langston Hughes: The Poet and His Critics. Chicago: American Library Association,

Show More

0 Replies to “Harlem A Dream Deferred Poem Analysis Essay”

Lascia un Commento

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *