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Langston Hughes wrote two poems that I choose for thematic analysis: Oppression and I Dream a World. Both poems show the author's bold and analytical personality, which speaks for the African-American culture with appropriate care and consideration. The author emphasizes how exposed the people of the city were to socioeconomic and political inequality. Langston is an abbreviation for Langston Hughes tries to portray the lack of independence and prospects in America, which is known as the land of opportunity, but where only deceit, suffering, and domination reign. Langston Hughes is known to devote his writings for the social and political situations of the African-American community across all the cities and suburbs of the United States during the 1920s to 1960s. However, one of the important aspects of the two poems is the dream. A dream of the author - everything falls into the right place. People would start living for other people. There is no pain and misery (Edwards 691). It is just freedom that prevails everywhere – the freedom of thoughts, expression, opportunities, and living etc. All the stanzas and lines, lines, and words of the poem depict the real-life situation of the African-American community that is continuously being subjected to oppression and tyranny. Some elements like dream, freedom, and peace correspond to the thematic similarity of the two poems. These elements, however, include some of the important aspects of the Langston Hughes’s writings. The connecting components perform a foundational aspect of the central notion of the two poems.
In the poem Oppression, the author highlights the theme of wisdom. He uses the dream as an important metaphor because of its absolute independence. A person can dream anything and anywhere, nobody can dominate him or her in doing so. This poem just consists of two stanzas that portray the theme through diverse settings. Hughes states that there is a complete unattainability of dreams even to the dreamers. The author wants to convey that the people who love freedom are not able to live according to it because of the control by the dominating communities (Nelson 27). Freedom means living freely without commanding or controlling anyone but, America has a different story. People are not able to enjoy their lives and live up to their content. It is just darkness that is present in every part of the world because of the economic and political power of the authorities. However, the author makes a prophecy that one day the shackles will be broken and the people would pluck the flowers of real freedom. The author dreams of the coming of freedom and what that would be like, he presents in the next poem.
I Dream a World presents a personal view of the author where he dreams of a happy and jubilant world. In this poem, the poet centralizes the importance of freedom and peace for absolute harmony for the humankind. Hughes wants to convey that a peaceful world would be possible only if the people live together in a complete concord (Royster 60). But, that is possible only if there are freedom and tranquillity in the world we live in. The greed for power and money instigates huge differences among the people of the world which, in turn, shatters the connectedness and attachment of the people that was there once. One important aspect of the poems is that it directly depicts the concept of racism prevailing in the American society. The author dreams of the freedom that would wipe away the concept of black people and white people and everyone lives for the welfare of the others without any influence of the color, caste, or creed. Hughes dreams of the world where there is only joyfulness everywhere and the desolation will die leaving all the crookedness and deceitfulness of the people behind. In a broader sense, the author dreams of freedom – freedom from greed and power that have made the people of the world as its slaves. They do not think beyond such materialistic belief and they do not care for the humankind, which does depend on the color of the humans (Jonathan 111).
The two poems, Oppression and I Dream a World, revolve around a dream. In the first poem, the dreams do not exist freely; they are captured and jailed while as in the other one the author himself dreams of freedom and peace. Though the two poems possess different contexts, they have a common thematic element. The poems are attached through a strong connection that facilitates positivity, honesty, and carefulness for others living in the same community and the same world. The first poem illustrates seizure on dreaming (freedom) and the poet’s faith in the form of a dream of the return of the freedom; and in the next poem the poet describes the facets of freedom and peace. Langston Hughes is very much concerned with the freedom and liberty of the African-American community and thus, dreams of a free and peaceful world where everyone lives happily without any restrictions and limitations.
Edwards, Brent Hayes. Langston Hughes and the Futures of Diaspora. American Literary History, Volume 19, Issue 3, 1 October 2007, Pages 689–711
Jonathan, Scoot. Socialist Joy in the Writing of Langston Hughes. University of Missouri Press. 2006. p. 109-115
Nelson, Cary. Repression and Recovery: Modern American Poetry and the Politics of Cultural. Univ of Wisconsin Press. 1989. p. 27
Royster, Jacqueline Jones. Traces of a Stream: Literacy and Social Change Among African American Women. University of Pittsburgh Press. 2000. p. 56-61
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