Unfulfilled Dreams Exposed in Hughes' Harlem Essay

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Unfulfilled Dreams Exposed in Hughes's Harlem

Most of us have dreams that we one day hope to fulfill. They could be little dreams that will take little time and effort to accomplish, or they could be big dreams that will take more time and energy to fulfill. Nevertheless, "whether one's dream is as mundane as hitting the numbers or as noble as hoping to see one's children reared properly," each dream is equally important to the person who has it (Bizot 904). Each dream is also equally painful when it is taken away; or if we never have the opportunity to make the dream a reality. In the poem "Harlem" by Langston Hughes, the different emotions that people feel when a dream is "deferred" is presented through Hughes's unique
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For some of the words, he uses the dictionary meaning, yet for others he uses the connotative meaning. When Hughes uses a word connotatively, he wants the reader to receive a deeper meaning than the dictionary definition would give. For example, the word "deferred" in "Harlem" means unfulfilled. The dictionary meaning, however, is "to postpone." In the dictionary, "postpone" means "will happen at a later date or time." However, the dreams that Hughes refers to are ones that will never come true.

Hughes also uses the connotative meaning for the word "fester" (line 4). The dictionary meaning is "to form pus," yet this definition does not seem strong enough for the emotion the word is trying to express. The word "fester" in the poem means to become a source of pain or anger. This is exactly what becomes of a person's "deferred" dream. It becomes painful because that dream never leaves the person's mind. The person might forget about it for a little while and go on with his or her life, but like most painful memories, it will pop up when the person least expects it to.

Each line in the poem "Harlem" gives an imaginative description of what a person with a "deferred" dream can become. Since this "poem does not define or give examples of the dream," we'll have to make up our own (901). Lines two and three ask, "Does it dry up / like a raisin in the sun?" We know that a