Langston Hughes: The Harlem Renaissance

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The Harlem Renaissance was a period in American history that brought forth an “cultural, social, and artistic explosion” (PBS) centered around the African-American neighborhood, and its residence, in New York known as Harlem. Sadly, Harlem currently is becoming more gentrified as the years pass. This is something I noticed on my many visits to New York over the past few years. However, Harlem became famous during this period bringing Iconic establishments still respected today such as the Apollo Theater, Lenox Lounge etc. One of the most famous poets from this era is Langston Hughes. Langston Hughes, an African-American poet from the early 20th century, was one of the most influential participants in the Harlem Renaissance. His style of writing …show more content…
The speakers in Hughes’s poems relate and embody the themes and symbols of the poems, and with his writing style, makes Hughes’s poems unique to the discussion of major themes that allow for a new perspective. The speakers in Hughes’s poems reflect the people effected by the themes—one of the biggest being dreams. Many of his speakers remain nameless and anonymous and clues are only given in text of their identities to allow for the reader to experience his poems first hand. This is evident in many of Hughes’s poems, but to produce a clear argument we will focus on Let America be America and Harlem. In Harlem, the speaker is personifying the theme of a civil rights movement and the social mobility frustrations of the African-Americans at this time in America. Harlem is Hughes’s more famous poems and one of his shortest; consisting of 5 stanzas, 11 lines with all but one line being a question. Hughes addresses one of his more common themes of limitations of the African-American dreams in America. Hughes approaches the poem in anger and spite which is evident in the language used in the poem—portraying sights and sounds that are unpleasant and carrying negative connotations. For example, in …show more content…
By now it is clear that Hughes writes about pressing social issues during his time. If he was writing in the present he would be exploring the issues of police brutality, not only towards African Americans, but to all the different who have been effected. Similarly, Hughes not only speaks about African Americans being subject to discrimination, but also any other abused race or social class in this poem. In the fifth stanza, Hughes states that he is all the races and lower social classes including the “the poor white”, “the Negro”, “the Red Man”, “the Immigrant”. The fact that Hughes recognizes these groups of people are experiencing the same struggles as the African American makes this poem more so significant than his other poems. The speakers are also identified as these people—as though he is speaking through them. Hughes analyzes the fact that the American dream never was what it was attempted to be— the perfect America exists only in dreams. He compares what his expectations for living in America would be to the reality of living it out as someone whom is deemed lesser. This is particularly noticeable when Hughes ends stanza 3 mentioning that in America “Equality is in the air we breathe” and then quickly exclaims that “There 's never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this homeland

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