A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes and My Little Dreams by Georgia Douglas Johnson

A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes and My Little Dreams by Georgia Douglas Johnson

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The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement during the 1920s and 1930s, in which African-American art, music and literature flourished. It was significant in many ways, one, because of its success in destroying racist stereotypes and two, to help African-Americans convey their hard lives and the prejudice they experienced. In this era, two distinguished poets are Langston Hughes, who wrote the poem “A Dream Deferred” and Georgia Douglas Johnson who wrote “My Little Dreams”. These two poems address the delayment of justice, but explore it differently, through their dissimilar uses of imagery, tone and diction.

Both poems address the fundamental theme of having a dream. This is the ever-occurring dream that is explored during the Harlem renaissance period; the dream of justice that is deferred. However, even in having the same theme, it is explored and is envisioned by the poets in different ways. In “A Dream Deferred”, Hughes describes the negative potentials of a dream that is delayed, warning that this may be dangerous. For example, he describes how ‘[it may] fester like a sore and then run’ which shows that if this dream remains unfulfilled, it will get ‘infected’ and lead to a greater, more destructive problem (4-5). Also, the dream may ‘crust and sugar over, like a syrupy sweet’, which describes how if a dream is forced to sit idle, it will lose its original goal, and harden into destructive thoughts that are crusted over with doubt, anger and hatred. It is even brought to a greater extreme; where Hughes describes how this dream may simply ‘explode’ (11). This shows the catastrophe that may result from the impatience of African-Americans who really want to achieve this dream of justice. On the other hand, in “My Little ...


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...ow this dream, once big and important is turned into a merely bothersome thought. This shows how the poet is no longer inspired to achieve this dream. Moreover, the phrase ‘I’m folding up my little dreams tonight, within my heart’ further describes her desperation (7). The act of folding describes her urge to make the dream disappear and tuck it out of her sight. This obviously shows how she does not want to confront it any longer.

Even if these poems had the same theme of the delayment of a dream, each poet’s vision towards this dream is explored differently, where readers are able to grasp both the effects and potentials of a dream deferred, through the use of imagery. Nonetheless, both poems had fulfilled the role of many distinguished poems during the period; to communicate African-Americans’ desires to live a life of equality and free from prejudice.



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