What Is Langston Hughes Writing Style

Langston Hughes is one of the most celebrated writers of the Harlem Renaissance. His writing style is distinguished by its vivid description, thoughtful analysis and sophisticated structure. With a focus on culture and identity, Hughes’ works are known for celebrating the beauty and power of the African-American experience, often translated in colorful and stirring language. This includes spoken-word performances, metered verse and poetic expressions.

Born in 1902, Hughes was raised in a poverty-stricken environment. His mother was a teacher and his father was a storekeeper. Despite their difficult financial situation, Hughes was very proud of his heritage and was deeply inspired by his roots. His writing grew from his life experiences, from his love of music, his pride in being an African-American and his thirst for knowledge. Hughes was said to not just reflect on African-American culture but to be part of its transformation.

What set Hughes apart from other writers of his time were the ways in which he mastered the English language. He explored many forms of writing to give his work an emotional depth and poignancy that enthralled readers and left indelible marks in the literary scene. His compositions were ever more elaborate, playing with words and expressing a range of sentiments within a single line.

One example of this is Hughes’s ‘Let America be America Again’. This poem was written in 1935 and was a response to social injustice and racial inequality and is thought to encapsulate Hughes’ core beliefs about life and justice. In the poem, Hughes uses simple poetic structures to convey a powerful message through vivid imagery and emotive language. Through this poem, he seeks to encourage readers to fight for the American Dream and challenge oppression.

Hughes’ most famous works are undoubtedly his poems. His poems often contain strong rhythms and alliteration, with extended metaphors lending insight into his thoughts and feelings about his subject. The language of many of his poems is so sophisticated that at times it can appear almost musical in nature. Hughes’s sophistication of language acts to create a sense of reverence and nostalgia, with words flowing together in a lyrical way that often leaves readers in awe.

Mood and voice

Perhaps what is most striking about Langston Hughes’ writing style is his command of mood and voice. He was adept at creating a sense of atmosphere and emotion within his works. Hughes’ poems often had a laid-back, yet intense atmosphere that was accessible to readers of all backgrounds. Hughes also had a particularly powerful and evocative use of language, which allowed him to replace words with images to impart an even greater sense of emotion.

Hughes’ use of language also created a unique voice, an evolving amalgam of African-American influences and unique voice. Through his use of dialect, Hughes gave a voice to those who were often sidelined in literature. Hughes also developed a unique style of storytelling, using vivid imagery to portray the depths of African-American life and culture. This approach was particularly resonant, as readers could see and feel Hughes’ passion for his language and his culture.

Joyo/Sadness in Writings

In line with his focus on African-American culture and identity, Hughes often used joy and sadness in his works in order to express his feelings and those of the African-American community. He often used the double entendre between joy and sorrow to capture both the struggles and successes of African-Americans. These two opposing forces were often combined to show the beauty in unlikely juxtapositions and to provide readers with a more complete understanding of Hughes’ writing style.

For example, in his poem ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’, Hughes provides a vivid description of African-American’s journey from slavery to freedom. He begins by representing the depths of his sorrow, “I’ve known rivers ancient as the world”, before taking readers on a journey of joy and hope, “washed on the banks of time” and ends on an optimistic note, “I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young”. In this poem, Hughes provided a complex statement about the struggles and triumphs of African Americans.

Hughes’ Legacy

Langston Hughes’ writing style has left an indelible mark on literature and popular culture. His works are celebrated for their frankness and sophistication and are often seen as a representation of the African-American experience. He influenced many African-American writers and poets of his time, as well as future generations of writers. His work has inspired countless generations of African-Americans to write about their experiences and to confronts the issues of oppression in their communities. Hughes’ writing style continues to be admired and celebrated today.

Use of Rhetoric and Propaganda

A common element of Hughes’ writing style was his use of rhetoric and propaganda. Hughes’ works often had a more political side, as in ‘Let America be America Again’. In this poem, Hughes uses forceful language to to call readers to action, to confront and challenge the existing power structure. He also powerfully evokes emotion by the use of rhetoric, through the repetition of certain words to create an intense atmosphere. This works to enlighten readers, to spark criticism and thought, and to make them question the world around them. Hughes achieved this through intentionally shaped language that drove much of his motivation.

Another example of this technique is Hughes’ poem ‘Ballad of the Landlord’. This poem is notable for its extensive use of metaphors and irony. Hughes uses his narrative to criticize the repressive nature of landlords, but does so with a sense of humor and gentle mockery. Through this poem, Hughes attempts to engage readers in understanding the plight of African Americans, through a tale of poetic revenge.

Influence on Future Writers

Langston Hughes’ legacy remains strong even today. His influence has shaped the way that writers approach their work, and it is still evident in many of the works that are being produced today. Hughes’ work remains an important part of African-American culture and identity, and is considered to be a source of inspiration and guidance for modern African-American writers. His works are admired for their passion, artistry and rhetorical strategies.

Although Hughes is celebrated as a writer, his most enduring and lasting contribution was in the way he was able to create a rich and powerful landscape in which African-Americans were able to tell their own stories in their own words. This remains an invaluable contribution to the literary world and his writing style still stands as an inspiration for many.


Langston Hughes was an incredibly prolific and influential writer. His unique writing style fused together numerous elements such as strong rhythm, vivid imagery and powerful emotions. This approach to literature was revolutionary and served as a catalyst for a new type of writing focused on the African-American experience. His novels, plays, memoirs and poems have enriched the cultural landscape and provided readers with a window into the African-American experience. Today, Hughes’ works are celebrated for their beauty, complexity and emotion.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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