Montage of a Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes

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A Dream Deferred is the poem of Langston Hughes that explores many potential results that may take place when the dream is not recognized as soon as possible. Moreover, the sonnet poses questions related to the aspirations of the individuals and results that arise when precise goals are not met. There are six outcomes illustrated in the poem which are awesome ways on how a dream can end and its harm on the dreamer. Further, the speaker expresses the fretfulness over the delayed ideas as they are associated to various soured ambitions. Furthermore, the dream can perish in six hypothetical means that are unfavourable to the dreamer. The elegy addresses the limitations of the African American dream and contains four stanzas that have eleven short lines although one line is queries (Hughes 17).


The speaker in the sonnet is an undefined black woman or man who muses about the deferred dream. By 1950s, USA was still racially separated where black people were saddled with the history of slavery hence making them the second-citizens within the eyes of the rules, especially in the south. The narrator is intimately aware of the problems that he faces as a black person since the tone reflects the complicated experience. Although the speaker does not talk about the particular dream, he or she submits that African people cannot aspire or trance to great things since they are leaving in the oppressive environment. For instance, the author illustrates that “if they dare to dream, their grand plans will fester for so long that they end up exploding or rotting” (Hughes 9). When the speaker depicts the aspirations, hopes, deep-seated discontent and frustration of the dreamer, he is expressing the feelings of black communities living in America.


The initial tone of the sonnet is frustration since the poet utilizes negative words such as run and fester as well as phrases including the “stink like rotten meat” in order to convey the aggravated attitude. At the basis of all questions in the rhyme, there is the fact that black individuals were living in oppression, poverty, and harassment on the institutional and social level. Consequently, Harlem residents’ dreams and talents were squashed due to the lack of opportunity despite being capable, skilled, talented or intelligent. Further, the poet demonstrates a reflection tone when illustrating the destiny of the unrecognized dreams of habitats in Harlem (Hughes 21). To reflect about something is thinking deeply or carefully where the rhymester takes the usual issue of economic and social repression in the Negroes society by 1900s and depicts the results of all squandered goals and ambitions of his peers. Moreover, the questions in the rhyme are created in the child-like tone but they are no means innocent or juvenile. Also, the child-like quality is based on the creative and personification of the vision. The writer adopts the question asking arrangement which is a usual practice of young kids thus making the poem to have child-like tone (Hughes 22).


The poem was written during the time of Harlem renaissance which is the era when African Americans spoke about oppression and racism impacting their communities. The theme of oppression and frustration are characterized by the humour of black Americans. The civil fight liberated African American from slavery while the federal laws granted them the right to own property and vote. However, the ongoing prejudice and rules that were passed later relegated them to the second-class citizenship. Africans attended poorly equipped separated schools and settled for menial jobs such as ditch-diggers porters, shoeshine boys, and servants. Moreover, Hughes presents the theme of a dream by illustrating that black people had dreamed of their life regardless of the race. However, the writer demonstrated the dangers of keeping the dreams for a long time. Furthermore, there is the theme of decay suggesting that the deferred dream dries “like a raisin in the sun” and “stinks like rotten meat” (Hughes 27). By these words, the poem illustrates the ugly impacts of repressing person’s dream for a long time.

Irony, Imagery, and Symbols

The verbal irony in the poem is used to demonstrate a hidden idea. The sonnet is full of irony since the dream is what the poet believes dashed the hopes of African American. For instance, the writer does not mean the actual raisin in the sun but African dreaming and hoping as well as waiting until they stand up and burst out from the oppression of the white community (Hughes 31). Besides, Langston uses symbolism together with imagery to demonstrate the emotions that his people went through during the quest for equality and freedom. For instance, the image of raisin symbolizes grape losing juices due to the sun representing dreams losing vitality when the realization is delayed.

Rhythm, Connotation of Words and Metrics

The poem contains irregular rhyme and metrical pattern that brings together oppression of African by Americans. The rhythmic, lyrical quality is attained via repetition of particular words, rhyme, alliteration as well as carefully placed syllables (Hughes 37). Moreover, the alliteration is dependent on the metaphors and similes to enhance the theme. For instance, there is a simile of a grape which is juicy and luscious but dries due to the sun which represents the dying of the African dream.

Work Cited

Hughes, Langston. Harlem (Dream Deferred), by Langston Hughes: A Lively Learning Guide. Shmoop University, 2010. Print.

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