Langston Hughes: Comparison and Contrasting Essay
by Feross Aboukhadijeh
Langston Hughes was a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance, the flowering of African-American literature and artistic forms in Manhattan during the 1920s. Not only did his writing promote African-American culture, but it sought to bring attention to the plight of the African-Americans suffering injustice and repression. His poems "I, Too" and "Theme for English B" both advanced his political views of equal civil rights and treatment under the law for African-Americans. Both poems use first-person voices; however the "I" is different for each poem, in order to fulfill Hughes' purpose for the poem.
In Hughes' poem "I, Too," the speaker is not an individual as the word "I" implies. In fact, the "I" represents the entirety of African-Americans living in the United States. That Hughes writes "I am the darker brother" instead of "we are the darker brothers" is no accident (2). The connotation of the word "I" as opposed to "we" is that of a lone individual, defenseless and outnumbered. The speaker says "They send me to eat in the kitchen," reinforcing the one-versus-all mentality that Hughes is trying to convey in this poem (3). "We" and "they," give a stronger, more united connotation than "I" does. In this poem, "I" is used to connote weakness, and isolation. As used in this poem, the first-person voice highlights the weakness of the African-American people. However, this is not the only way that Hughes uses "I" in his poetry.
On the other hand, Hughes' poem "Theme for English B," uses the first-person voice for an entirely different effect. In this poem, the "I" is an individual student. The poem is written like a narrative: "I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem" (7). Unlike the first poem, "I" is used here to connote strength and singularity. The speaker, an African-American student given an English writing assignment, engages his teacher in an intelligent, even pointed dialog. Hughes artistically makes use of the first-person point of view to enhance the effect of the story. By using words like "I" and "them", "me" and "you," the speaker is able to point out the differences between himself and his teacher. One passage in particular stands out for its incessant juxtaposition of the words "you" and "me":
You are white—
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that's true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me— (31-38).
Not only does this highlight the differences between the speaker and teacher, but it puts the speaker in a commanding position. The fact that an African-American individual is writing something controversial, and making critical remarks of his teacher—and in such an eloquent way—is a sign of strength and source of pride.
Although these poems both make use of first-person voices, they each make use of voice to different ends. Nonetheless, both poems draw attention to the plight of the African-American people, albeit in different manners. Both poems cry out for civil rights and equality in a time where African-Americans were treated neither civilly nor equally.
Aboukhadijeh, Feross. "Sample Compare and Contrast Essay - "Langston Hughes"" StudyNotes.org. Study Notes, LLC., 17 Nov. 2012. Web. 13 Mar. 2018. <https://www.apstudynotes.org/english/sample-essays/compare-contrast-langston-hughes/>.
Compare and contrast the two poems, focusing on how the poets use
1139 Words5 Pages
Compare and contrast the two poems, focusing on how the poets use language and imagery to represent war.
Both poems are war poems of two different periods in history. 'The
Charge of the Light Brigade', by Alfred Tennyson, was written before the twentieth century whereas 'Dulce et decorum est' was first drafted in 1917 by a poet named Wilfred Owen. Tennyson's poem was set in The
Crimean War (1854-56) where the British commander made the mistake of charging at the main Russian position. He was meant to have retaken some guns held by the Russians. This had inevitably caused many deaths to the six hundred men that obeyed the order. Alfred Lord Tennyson was not at the battle scene, he created his poem through the description
given…show more content…
To me I refer to the tripling
"Cannons to the right of them,
Cannons to the left of them"
as being the constant sound of cannons firing on the battlefield.
Tennyson makes it obvious to the reader that death is inevitable. The noun "Death" is personified by a capital letter, implying that Death is the owner of the valley the soldiers are entering. This noun has also been repeated in every stanza, making it stand out, inferring that it could be important to the outcome of the battle. The soldiers rode into a hell of a battle. The use of personification, "mouth of
Hell" to me evokes the image of a beast or monster waiting for the soldiers in "The valley of Death".
This poem gets the reader involved by using imperatives such as
"Honour the charge they made". Alfred Tennyson thought provokes the readers through his use of rhetorical questions, such as "Was there a man dismayed?" On the other hand, he may have used imperatives and rhetorical questions to get the reader to agree with the poet that soldiers are heroic. He may have wanted the readers to share his views and 'honour the light brigade'.
The war was loud and noisy. Noise imagery is evoked with verbs like
"volleyed" and "thundered", which could suggest the noise of the cannons being loud and threatening like thunder, as well as there was probably lots of guns firing everywhere.
Unlike 'Dulce et