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Analysis


Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...

Form and Meter

Free, free, free! Six questions and one very meek declarative sentence compose the bones of this poem – it's a poem built of questions, and questions makes us think of uncertainty and the que...

Speaker

Our speaker is like a really cool professor who is super smart and who asks the best questions. We imagine him standing in front of a classroom, letting the chatter and nervous energy die down. He...

Setting

While this poem's setting is ambiguous, it contains very specific images that ignite our imaginations. We can imagine our speaker is a professor in a college classroom (see the "Speaker Point of Vi...

Sound Check

There's a tinge of Jeopardy to this poem (thanks to the six questions), and there's a healthy dose of the Blues (thanks to all of the dream talk, the straight talk, and the soul-searching). When we...

What's Up With the Title?

Hold onto your hats. This poem actually has two titles. Hughes first titled it "Harlem," but later called it "Dream Deferred." Some people even refer to it by its first line, "what happens to a dre...

Calling Card

As the poet laureate of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes was passionate about exploring the soul and condition of the black community in America. He sought to capture the everyday experience...

Tough-O-Meter

The questions of this poem lead us to some weighty issues lurking at its heart, but we're willing to bet you have experience with the idea of deferred dreams, and that you've felt the range of emot...

Brain Snacks

Sex Rating

Dreams come in all shapes and sizes, however, we just don't see much action going down in this poem. Sorry, folks.

Shout Outs

"a raisin in the sun" (3) – Lorraine Hansberry took this line as the title of her play (A Raisin in the Sun), which is one of the most famous and beloved of American plays as it treats an ele...
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