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Socioeconomic Tensions in Langston Hughes Ballad of the Landlord The theme in the poem Ballad of the Landlord by Langston Hughes although certainly may be interpreted in different ways basically boils down to the socioeconomic class conflict between the haves and have-nots A Marxist critic will argue that the social and economic tensions that have existed since the establishment of civilization are reflected on the literary works of authors throughout time The elements of poetry that best support the theme in Hughes poem are the archetypal symbol and irony The conflict between the landlord and the tenant is one that has existed in other forms in the past and exists in the present as well It is an archetypal symbol of rich vs poor or in Marxist terminology bourgeoisie vs proletariat Marxist critics believe that the proletarian is punished as a direct consequence of the disparity in wealth and in this system the rich will be excused for any wrongdoing In Hughes poem we see a reflection of this unfair treatment by the system that is imposed on the tenant The tenant warns the landlord that he will not pay him the rent money until the problems of the apartment are repaired Well thats Ten Bucks moren Ill pay you Till you fix this house up new Hughes 1049 His protest is met with a far fetched exaggerated story that the landlord tells the police saying that Hes trying to ruin the government And overturn the land Hughes 1050 The system then proceeds in punishing the tenant by putting him in jail Today we can still see this unfairness of the system in that impoverished African-Americans represent a majority in prisons even though they represent a minority in American society On the other hand the judicial system has a way of pardoning many white-collar crimes for example one will not find too many bank executives that are incarcerated for embezzlement or
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