The title of the play is inspired from Langston Hughes' poem "Harlem," which asks, "What happens to a dream deferred?/Does it dry up/like a raisin in the sun?" This probing psychological study of a working-class black family on Chicago's south side in the late 1940s mirrored Hansberry's own...
Laurence Hansberry was born on April 7, 19201 in Washington, D.C. He was the son of Pauline (née Adler) and Lawrence Hansberry. His father was a successful attorney who served as an aide to U.S. Senator Carter W. Bennett during World War II before opening his own law firm. The senior Hansberry also played a prominent role in the civil rights movement, serving as one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s attorneys during his arrest in 1958. Laurence had two brothers, Stephen and Aaron. He grew up in suburban Maryland and attended Harvard University, where he studied English literature for three years before dropping out to pursue acting careers.
After leaving college, Hansberry moved to New York City, looking for work in the entertainment industry. In 1959, he got his big break when Lincoln Center Theater hired him as a stage director for their production of Euripides' Bacchae. The play ran for nearly two years. In 1961, Hansberry won the Obie Award for best new American playwright.
Lorraine Hansberry's three-act play A Raisin in the Sun was originally published and staged in 1959.
A raisin is a dried grape that has been harvested before it becomes fully mature. For most grapes, this occurs when the skin turns red but the pulp remains white. However, some varieties of wine grape are allowed to remain on the vine longer, which gives them a chance to turn color even while still attached to the vine. This is called "sun-drying" because the heat of the sun is used to finish maturing the fruit.
Raisins were once popular all over Europe but now can be found only in certain regions. By weight, California accounts for about one-third of the world's raisins sold annually. Texas follows with about one-quarter. The other half is distributed among the other states plus Canada and Mexico.
Raising fruit for food rather than for wine requires much less labor and technology than growing grapes for winemaking. Thus, farmers raise enough grapes to sell for juice instead of trying to make wine. The sale of raisins is another story though; it takes so many grapes to make one raisin that farmers don't bother raising enough fruit to sell in small quantities.
Langston Hughes' poem "Montage of a Dream Deferred," written as a criticism of Harlem culture, serves as the epigraph to A Raisin in the Sun. The title of the play is derived straight from a passage in Langston Hughes' poem on postponed hopes, and the epigraph presents a question that the play seeks to answer.
Hughes was a prominent American author, poet, and civil rights activist who lived from 10047 to 9394. He published several collections of poems including: The Big Sea (1941), Not Without Laughter (1945), But Some Time Later (1949), and Simple Songs (1951). His works have been widely praised by such authors as T. S. Eliot and William Faulkner.
In addition to his poetry, Hughes worked as a journalist for newspapers such as the Pittsburgh Courier and The New York Herald Tribune. He also worked for the United States Department of Agriculture during World War II where he developed educational programs for black soldiers.
Langston Hughes utilizes a comparison in his poem "Harlem": "Does it dry out, like a raisin in the sun?" Lines 2-3 Using this comparison, he expresses how dreaming may be both wonderful and harmful. A raisin is a dried grape that has been exposed to the sun. Hughes is demonstrating that dreams may be unpleasant. However, dreams can also be beneficial in helping us grow as people.
Dreams are like water. We need them to exist. Without our sleep, we would collapse under the weight of our thoughts. Our brains produce more neurons during our dreams. This means that we must have at least one good dream per night!
Sometimes when we wake up we feel drained of energy. This is because dreams require a lot of energy. When we are sleeping, our bodies are using up their energy supply so they don't have anything left over when we wake up.
Our minds are free to wander into strange places when we are asleep. This is why nightmares often happen when we are awake but can't remember our dreams. The mind is working hard while we sleep to process everything that happens during the day. It keeps this list in a place called "long-term memory". Memories that are too frightening to face when we are awake get stored in this list instead. When we do wake up, these memories come rushing back causing us to have a bad reaction. This is why some people find themselves screaming during their nightmares.
Lorraine Hansberry finished her debut play, 'A Raisin in the Sun,' in 1957, deriving her title from Langston Hughes' poem "Harlem." The play was not successful when it debuted on Broadway that same year. It was not performed again until almost 30 years later, when it received its first London production at the Royal National Theatre.
Hansberry began work on the play while she was living in Paris, where she had moved to study French literature at the University of Paris. While there, she met other young American artists who were also living in France, including James Baldwin and William Faulkner. They encouraged Hansberry to write about her own experiences as an African-American in New York City, which she did in the play.
Hansberry used information from her own family history for the character of Lena, a woman trying to make a life for herself and her children in the Harlem section of Manhattan. She based several other characters on people she knew, including her mother, father, and brother.