What Becomes of Dreams Deferred: “Harlem” Essay Example
What Becomes of Dreams Deferred: “Harlem” Essay Example

What Becomes of Dreams Deferred: “Harlem” Essay Example

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In “Harlem,” by Langston Hughes, the speaker wants the reader to consider the dangers of postponing their dreams.

Through similes of imagery, he emphasizes the importance to consider dreams to be as real as flesh and vital as food. “Harlem” is a free verse poem consisting of eleven lines, which are broken into four stanzas. In the first stanza, the speaker offers a question, “What happens to a dream deferred?” which has infinite many answers. In stanzas, two and three he answers his first rhetorical question with five more questions. In the forth stanza, he provides a final answer to the original questions in the form of a declarative question.

Hughes beginning the poem with a question, “What happens to a dream deferred?” His inversion of syntax, dream deferred instead of deferred dreams makes the


reader become conscious of the fact they are in the world of poetry, abstract and soul-searching not a rationale world. The reader begins to think outside their normal parameters. This begins the search for an answer.
In stanza two, Hughes provides several usages of similes to place emphasis on the consequences of postponed dreams.

For example in lines two and three, Hughes give an answer to this question, “Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” When things dry up, they lose their moisture, writhe away and die. The speaker is stressing the importance to continue to pursue your dreams or they will die. More similes are created in lines three and four, “Or fester like a sore --- And then run?” The words fester and sore creates a putrid image for the reader suggesting the consequences of an ignored dream can

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be dangerous. Hughes uses personification in line five suggesting that dreams can run. The meaning of the word “run” is very powerful in this line signifying that our dreams can escape us if not properly pursue.

Hughes uses another simile to compare a deferred dream to rotten meat in line six, “Does it stink like...

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