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Analysis of ‘I Dream A World’ by Langston Hughes

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I Dream A World

Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967) was a poet, novelist, playwright, columnist and socialist of African- American origin. He wrote about the African-American community living across the US, in its suburbs and cities, between 1920s and 1960s. He was a prominent advocate of the Harlem Renaissance, the cultural movement of the African American community. This movement was designed to create more visibility to the world the role played by this community. Hughes wanted his people to be integrated with the American culture while maintaining their identity. He believed that all are equal and were worthy of same respect. This is the core thought of the poem ‘I dream a World’.

‘I Dream a World’ is about the poet’s dream which is a recurring theme in many of his poems; the theme is equality of all races. He dreams of world where there is no hate for the other and love prevails everywhere. It will obviously result in ‘peace’ everywhere. It is not just love and peace for all but freedom for all too. The blacks were being supressed during his times so he hopes that all are free and the world is bereft of greed and avarice. In the third stanza he speaks about equality of people, black or white, and the freedom to use the resources of earth equally. In the last stanza he wants all that is wretched to hang its head in shame and joy is available for the asking. He does mentions joy is as precious as pearl and generally not easily available. But it is that joy he wishes for all people, without any discrimination.

‘I Dream a World’ has sixteen lines in four stanzas with a rhyme scheme ABCB. Anaphora is brought in by the repetition of the line ‘I dream a world where..’The word ‘dream’ is repeated four times, one in each stanza. Wretchedness and joy is personified. Hughes wants wretchedness to be ashamed every time it shows up. Joy on the other hand must be available to all and should attend to everyone’s need and not discriminate between races. Simile is used to describe ‘joy’. ‘And joy, like a pearl’, here joy is compared to a pearl. Pearls are not found easily and once found they are in their shells and all their coverings have to be removed to reach it. Hughes is saying that happiness is elusive and one has to go in search for it. He wants such a situation to change and wants joy available to all easily.

The theme of the poem is equality, and unity as mankind. Racism, discrimination, selfishness, greed should be eliminated. It is in some ways a communist idea. The title is ‘I Dream a World’ and the word ‘dream’ is repeated once in each stanza. This shows that reality is wretched with widespread greed and avarice. There is inequality in the society and the bounties of the earth are not shared equally among the people. He does mean the troubles of the black community alone but he speaks for all mankind. Now his dream is a reversal of that he is seeing in reality. In short he dreams of a Utopian World.