Exploring the Symbolism and Historical Allusions in Langston Hughes' 'The Negro Speaks of Rivers'
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Dear Professor X,
In exploring the symbolism and historical allusions in Langston Hughes's "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," I hoped to trace the different elements that influenced Hughes and how he viewed himself within the world and society. In the process of examining the poem and beginning to create a structure, I had to not only look at the superficial meaning of what Hughes was saying, but also look for alternative meanings of what he said. Additionally, I had to tie in my knowledge of history and society, which helped me to better understand Hughes and what he wrote. I chose this poem over Phyllis Wheatley's "On Being Brought from Africa to America" because I felt that Hughes view of himself was much more deep than Wheatley's, and that the message of Hughes's poem was much more complex.
One of the most difficult tasks I encountered in writing this paper was trying to get into Hughes's mindset, especially since this poem was written shortly after he graduated high school. It is interesting to see how mature he was at the time, which could indicate that external factors forced him to become a mature young man at an early age. Additionally, I struggled with figuring out what Hughes meant, and how he used symbolism to enhance his poetic vision.
As I wrote this essay, I realized that determining the literal meaning of Hughes's writing was one of my strengths as I was able to see that he wrote the events in chronological order. Also, if I did not understand something, or