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Amon Mask Analysis Essay

Analysis of We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar Essay

1345 Words6 Pages

Analysis of We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar

“We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar is a renowned piece of literature that has been the subject of various literary criticisms over the years. Because of the poem’s indirectness and generalized ambiguity, the interpretation of the “we” that wears the “mask” and why they do so is left unanimously undisclosed. It is up to the interpreter and the support given by the interpreter to produce a valid representation of the meaning that lies beneath the mask. One such analysis of “We Wear the Mask” is presented by Peter Revell on page 71 of his book Paul Laurence Dunbar, which was published in 1979 by G. K. Hall & Co. Unfortunately, the given argument nearly shames
the…show more content…

And because of Dunbar’s ambiguity to whom the poem’s primary audience is, it causes one to question Revell’s claim; and additionally, the purpose of Dunbar’s poem. Was it a direct focus to blacks wearing this “mask” to hide their “hearts of suffering” as
Revell suggests, or could it instead be that Dunbar was attempting to adhere to all of mankind, saying that each person, no matter their race, wears a mask? The contents of Dunbar’s poem would support the latter. “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar is a poem directed toward the entire human race that addresses the issue of our human tendency to hide behind a “mask” that conceals our true emotions and selves. Dunbar opens his poem with “We wear the mask,” to draw in any type of reader, not just a targeted race. It would appear contradictory for
Dunbar to use the universal term “we” while at the same time excluding everyone but blacks because even though he grew up in poverty, he was born in a time when slavery had been abolished and discrimination, though still present, was much less severe. Dunbar even excelled in a school where he was the only black student. He was continually

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Analysis of a Poem “We wear the mask” Essay

936 WordsMar 18th, 20134 Pages

Amber Davis
Professor Quirk
Literature 101
February 28, 2013

We Wear the Mask The lyric poem “We wear the mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar is a poem about the African American race, and how they had to conceal their unhappiness and anger from whites. This poem was written in 1895, which is around the era when slavery was abolished. Dunbar, living in this time period, was able to experience the gruesome effects of racism, hatred and prejudice against blacks at its worst. Using literary techniques such as: alliteration, metaphor, persona, cacophony, apostrophe and paradox, Paul Dunbar’s poem suggests blacks of his time wore masks of smiling faces to hide their true feelings.…show more content…

Essentially, the person of this poem is asking why should the world get the right to know why they are truly upset, and potentially use it against them; instead, have pride, hold your head up high, and put on your “mask.” In doing so, the literary term paradox comes into play. This poem is about the true feelings of blacks being hidden behind masks, when also the poem itself hides the fundamental issue of racism from even being mentioned – that alone is a paradox because the poem has a mask on as well. This poem can also be seen as a paradox because this so called “we” is supposed to be wearing a mask when in fact they are expressing their feelings and becoming vulnerable, aka – no more mask.
Although each stanza has a bit of alliteration, the second stanza is the most dominant. Dunbar writes, “Why should the world be over-wise,/ In counting all our tears and sighs?/ Nay, let them only see us, while/ We wear our masks” (6-9). The alliteration in this stanza is used heavily with the letter “w.” With the use of this alliteration, it creates a sense of flow that helps the speaker get his point across more smoothly. Although the poem is more cacophonic, and harsh, rather than euphonic, and harmonious, the use of alliteration helps highlight the importance of this stanza’s sayings. The alliteration aspect of this stanza

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