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by Langston Hughes

Democracy Analysis

Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Form and Meter

Our Shmoopie sense tends to get activated when we see a perfect rhyme in the first stanza of a poem, in this case "year" and "fear." We might look for patterns in rhyme and meter, since couple...


Our speaker of "Democracy" sounds like he could be our friend, right? (Note: We're just assuming it's a he, since Langston Hughes is the poet. It's always dangerous to mix up the poet and the speak...


We could be anywhere in "Democracy," and that's kind of the point. It doesn't matter where we are or what time it is; what matters is that all people ought to be free, no matter the specifics. Ambi...

Sound Check

"Democracy" sounds like something you'd hear at a dinner party or over coffee, even if its subject matter is mighty important. It's all about the speaker's casual and informal sound that makes this...

What's Up With the Title?

Our speaker gets right to the point in "Democracy" by starting his poem with the title itself. There's no doubt then as to what "Democracy" is really about. We get that democracy, in its plainest s...

Calling Card

Langston Hughes didn't have it too easy in his day. Black intellectuals of his time often criticized our man for portraying black life in a less-than-flattering way, during a time when these same f...


Once we have a basic understanding of what democracy is, it's pretty easy to understand Hughes's take on freedom in this poem. And since most people have some sort of knowledge of—and appreciatio...


Hughes wrote songs too, and mighty "free" ones at that. (Source.) Our man wrote a lot about the "American Dream" and whether or not it's been realized. (Source.)Hughes was also mighty interested in...

Steaminess Rating

Sure, democracy can be sexy with all its talk about enjoying freedom, but that's not the case in Hughes's version of "Democracy." He keeps things free in a plain, non-sexy sense.

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