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/>.
Creating A Strong AP World History Compare And Contrast Essay
If you are not a big fan of literature, writing an essay can be a problem. However, if you take your time to practice and you struggle to complete your assignments in good way, you will get better and better. To create a good composition in history is not easy for anyone, and it’s even worst when you have to create a compare and contrast type of composition. If you don’t know how to handle this, take a look at these guidelines:
- Choose some amazing topics to talk about. You can write about anything, as long as the elements become to the same category. You have to write the differences and the similarities between them , and it will be impossible to do this if you talk about a monument and a battle. Since you have to write about history, you can easily compare two wars or two important battles.
- Emphasize the similarities and differences while writing. When you make research for your composition, you have to write down the elements that are important. In this way you will make sure that you don’t forget anything and that you will not neglect something vital for this subject.
- Create an outline. This will help you keep the information organized and clear for any reader. In order to create an outline you have to divide the information in several chapters and to choose an appropriate title for each chapter. To follow the requirements, you will also have to write a number for each page; this will make your project look professional.
- Write the draft and polish everything. It will take a few hours to write a first draft, but you don’t have to rush the process. You just have to arrange all the ideas in a clear way and to make sure that any reader can understand what you are saying. It is important to use synonyms and analogies to make the text more interesting and engaging.
- Write a good conclusion and edit the text. You have to end the composition in good way, and you can do this by composing a smart and funny conclusion. In the last lines you also have to mention if you reached your goal and what did you prove in your text. After this, correct any grammar mistake and you are ready to submit your assignment!