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Analysis of Dreams by Langston Hughes - Essay Example

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Summary
On first reading, Langston Hughes’ “Dreams” is a very short and simple poem. It can be read in a flash, there is no complexity and its meaning is very clear. It does not require any interpretation. Its theme is so direct and strongly emphasized that it can be stated in a single sentence. …
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Analysis of Dreams by Langston Hughes
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Analysis of Dreams by Langston Hughes

Analysis of “Dreams” by Langston Hughes

On closer analysis, the poem reveals depths of meaning which make it rich and particularly appealing to the reader. Langston Hughes skilfully uses structure, theme, vivid imagery and literary devices to enhance the effect of “Dreams.” The structure of the poem heightens the poem’s appeal. It consists of just a couple of complete sentences which are arranged in two short stanzas. Each stanza is in the form of four lines which are brief and to the point. This enables the reader to focus on the theme without any distraction. The focus remains completely on the importance of holding on to dreams. The poet uses simple vocabulary and the meaning of the poem is easy to grasp. There are no ambiguous words which puzzle the reader. This makes the tone of the poem very conversational. The everyday language generates an intimate tone and makes the reader particularly receptive to the poet’s voice. The reader feels that the poet is addressing him directly and immediately empathizes with the poet. The reader develops a sense of comradeship with the poet. The rhyming scheme is another aspect of the poem’s structure which holds the reader’s attention. The second and fourth lines of the two stanzas rhyme: “die” and “fly;” “go” and “snow.” The rhyme adds to the beauty of the poem’s sound and gives it a lyrical quality. The first and fourth lines are unrhymed and make an effective contrast which heightens the rhyme of the other lines. The absence of punctuation is another characteristic of the structure which heightens the effect of the poem. This makes the structure very stark and compelling. Each line flows into the next and contributes to the easy reading of the poem. The poem’s structure demonstrates strong repetition. There is repetition in structure and repetition in words. The two stanzas follow the same pattern. The structure of the first stanza is repeated in the second stanza: both stanzas begin with the poet’s urging to hold on to dreams and both go on to give the details of what would happen if this is not done. By repeating the words “Hold fast to dreams,” (Hughes, 1) in the second stanza, the poet emphasizes the importance of not letting go of one’s dreams and gives his warning an air of urgency. Again, the two stanzas show a repetition of structure in the lines “Life is a broken-winged bird” (3) and “Life is a barren field” (7). Here, the repetition is used for emphasis and the adverse consequences of losing one’s dreams is clearly stated. The theme of the poem is something which every reader can identify with. Dreams are a part of every individual’s life. The vast majority of humanity starts out with many goals and aspirations. As life goes on, obstacles and sorrows are met and many of these dreams remain mere fantasy or die. They cannot be translated into reality. There soon comes a time when hopelessness envelops the soul. There is a tendency to give up on dreams and accept that they are beyond reach. The poet speaks to the many readers whose dreams are yet to be realized. By urging them to “Hold fast to dreams,” the poet implies that dreams can easily slip away unless they are tightly held on to. It is comforting to know that everyone finds it difficult to keep a grip on their dreams. The vivid imagery of the poem captures the imagination of the reader. The poem makes the reader actually visualize the tragic consequences of letting go of ... Read More
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