An Analysis of "A Dream Deferred"

download print

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 679 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 679|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. The Frustration of Deferred Dreams
  2. The Societal Implications of Deferred Dreams
  3. Conclusion
  4. Bibliography

Langston Hughes, a prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance, explores the concept of a "dream deferred" in his poem of the same name. This essay aims to analyze the poem and delve into its various interpretations and implications. By examining the different aspects of the dream deferred, we can gain a deeper understanding of the social and emotional impact of unfulfilled dreams. Through the use of vivid imagery, Hughes captures the frustration, disappointment, and potential consequences of suppressing one's dreams. This analysis will provide insights into the complexities of human aspirations and the importance of pursuing them before they wither away.

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

The Frustration of Deferred Dreams

The first aspect of a dream deferred that Hughes explores is the frustration it brings. He vividly portrays the emotional turmoil of individuals who are unable to fulfill their dreams, using powerful visual imagery. For instance, in the poem, Hughes asks, "Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?" This comparison evokes a sense of desiccation, symbolizing the withering and shriveling of dreams over time. This image conveys the frustration and disappointment that accompany the deferred dream, as it slowly loses its vitality and becomes a mere remnant of what it once was.

Furthermore, Hughes suggests that a dream deferred can become a heavy burden, weighing down on individuals and causing them to feel trapped. He writes, "Or fester like a sore—And then run?" This simile compares a deferred dream to an unhealed wound that festers and eventually bursts. This vivid imagery conveys the idea that unfulfilled dreams can lead to destructive consequences if left unaddressed. The frustration of a dream deferred can manifest in various ways, such as resentment, anger, or even violence.

It is through such imagery that Hughes emphasizes the emotional toll of dreams that are left unfulfilled. By painting a vivid picture of the frustration and burden that deferred dreams bring, he compels readers to reflect on the importance of pursuing their aspirations before they become a source of distress.

The Societal Implications of Deferred Dreams

Another dimension of the dream deferred that Hughes explores is its impact on society as a whole. He suggests that when dreams are deferred, they can have negative consequences not only for individuals but also for the community in which they live. Hughes utilizes the line, "Does it stink like rotten meat?" to evoke a strong sense of disgust and revulsion.

This vivid imagery implies that unfulfilled dreams can breed resentment and discontentment within a community. When individuals are unable to achieve their aspirations, it creates a sense of dissatisfaction and disillusionment, which can lead to social unrest. The deferment of dreams can contribute to a collective frustration that manifests in various forms, such as protests, riots, or social upheaval.

Furthermore, Hughes suggests that a dream deferred can perpetuate cycles of poverty, inequality, and discrimination. He writes, "Or crust and sugar over—like a syrupy sweet?" This comparison implies that the dream, when unfulfilled, can become a superficial facade that masks underlying issues. The dream may appear sweet and enticing, but beneath the surface, there lies an unresolved tension that threatens to erupt.

By exploring the societal implications of deferred dreams, Hughes emphasizes the importance of addressing and supporting individual aspirations. He suggests that a community that neglects the dreams of its members risks fostering an environment of discontent and social unrest.


In conclusion, Langston Hughes' poem "A Dream Deferred" offers a profound analysis of the consequences of unfulfilled dreams. Through vivid imagery and thought-provoking metaphors, Hughes explores the frustration and societal implications of dreams that are left to wither away. He emphasizes the emotional toll that deferred dreams can have on individuals, as well as the potential societal consequences of neglecting these aspirations. Hughes' poem serves as a poignant reminder to pursue our dreams before they become a source of frustration and discontentment. By examining the complexities of a dream deferred, we gain a deeper understanding of the importance of nurturing and supporting individual aspirations within a community.

Get a custom paper now from our expert writers.


Hughes, Langston. "A Dream Deferred." The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes. Edited by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel, Vintage Classics, 2004, pp. 232-233.

Image of Dr. Charlotte Jacobson
This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

An Analysis of “A Dream Deferred”. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 22, 2024, from
“An Analysis of “A Dream Deferred”.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
An Analysis of “A Dream Deferred”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Jul. 2024].
An Analysis of “A Dream Deferred” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 22]. Available from:
Keep in mind: This sample was shared by another student.
  • 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help
  • Custom essay delivered in as few as 3 hours
Write my essay

Still can’t find what you need?

Browse our vast selection of original essay samples, each expertly formatted and styled


Where do you want us to send this sample?

    By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.


    Be careful. This essay is not unique

    This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

    Download this Sample

    Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts


    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Please check your inbox.

    We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!


    Get Your
    Personalized Essay in 3 Hours or Less!

    We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!
    • Instructions Followed To The Letter
    • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
    • Unique And Plagiarism Free
    Order your paper now