Week 4 Assignment 4
James Langston Hughes: A Literary Beacon
In this paper my goal is to analyze the writings of Langston Hughes by applying historical critical perspectives. In casual terms, historical criticism means to acknowledge and present the cultural and social influence found in writing based on the era it was written. Many different issues can play a role in influencing a writer’s work such as wars, social upheavals and even one’s personal experiences. I intend to show how much elements are present in Langston Hughes’ literature.
Langston Hughes’ life started much differently than most African – American folks of his time. He was not born poor nor was he raised in a poverty ravaged environment, yet his writings contain many ...view middle of the document...
Hughes himself most likely never experienced or witnessed such an event, but through family, friends and other sources had been exposed to such treacherous tales.
The second source of influence I believe was far more personal and very much a part of his own experiences. The influence I make reference to is the fight for social equality. Even as a successful writer Hughes was always considered and referred as a black writer. I believe his opinion on this matter is clearly expressed in his poem, “I, Too.” The last line in this poem says, “I, too, am America.” To me this speaks volumes about how even a man of his stature, could somehow be deemed less than equal. Langston once wrote “We younger Negro artists now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they aren’t, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too. . .” He then goes on to say, “If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn’t matter either.” This quote is from his essay titled, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain.
The point here is weather you read his poetry, short stories or essays the message remains consistent. Langston Hughes wrote about a day when all people would be treated and classified as equals. To Hughes it wasn’t just about making the black community better; it was about improving life for society as a whole. This way of thinking is what separates Langston Hughes from many writers of his time.
In conclusion, Langston Hughes’ literature is a prime example of how historically significant experiences can influence one’s writings and therefore, help shape the future.