Claude McKay and Langston Hughes are considered «two of the most influential African American poets during the Harlem Renaissance. They each helped shape the trends that would later define the literary movement with African Americans, In a reflective poem, Langston Hughes portrays racism and oppression in his poem “Harlem inform the reader of all the wrongdoings during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, Claude McKay in his poem “If We Must Die”, in comparison, also reflect on the Renaissance era, They each use imagery, tone and similes to establish the theme of oppression and racism in each of their poems, McKay approach towards racism was aggressive and militant.
Hughes’s approach to experiencing racism was reflective and thought.
Imagery in poetry creates a visual image for the reader, which allows them to make their interpretation of the image. In the poem “Harlem”, Hughes used a lot of imagery to appeal to the reader’s five senses. All the images are powerful enough to make the reader feel, taste, and smell the dream, Hughes often used analogies ta induce images of a dream postponed.
He imagined the dream stinking, drying up, and exploding, These images were not violent but have sort of a gloomy tone to them. One of his most famous lines from the poem is, “What happens to 4 dreams deferred” (Hughes). This quote or question can create many different images in the reader’s brain, I felt a feeling of emptiness reading his poem because everyone wants to be able to accomplish his or her dreams.
Hughes was wedged in a society and culture that did not want African Americans to have power or be educated. In McKay’s “If We Must Die”, McKay uses imagery and description to convey how blacks felt towards whites in the 1920s. McKay states “If we must due, let it not be like hogs and though far outnumbered let us show us brave” (McKay), This quote can give you the feeling and pride he had of being an African American, He wanted the reader to paint a picture inside of our brains to show us his true.
Furthermore, in both poems “Harlem” and “If We Must Die”, the two authors used similes to compare and to add suspense. Hughes used a simile such as “maybe it just sags like a heavy load”, or “does it explode”, to keep the reader on their Coes. Quotes such as this, encourage the audience to use their interpretation and imagination skills to establish the meaning of the quote. As a reader of the poem, I was in shock by the use of such a simile. Hughes ended the poem with similes and a question, which left me suspenseful and anxious to read more about the Harlem Renaissance Era. In the poem, “If We Must Die”, McKay used multiple similes to compare different animals (0 humans. The quote “If we must die, let it not be like hogs hunted and penned in an inglorious spot Compares African Americans to hogs. McKay is preparing for death but he does not want us to be haunted and killed similar to humans preying on hogs. “This simile helps the reader understand the character’s main point of view by comparing those subjects”.
However, both Authors used imagery, tone, and similes in each poem to establish the theme of oppression and racism in each of their poems. Both poems convey so much power behind the words used inside of their poems. Hughes and McKay were very similar in their poems but each took a different approach in attitude when explaining the problems they were facing: and how they were racially discriminated against during that time. As an African American, 1 cannot help but sense an overwhelming feeling of rebellion and pride in each poem.