We Wear the Mask?
An analysis of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem We Wear the Mask.
This paper examines the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar’s 1903 poem “We Wear the Mask”, which is in open defiance of the commonly accepted fallacy of his day that African-Americans were happy in the subservient roles they were forced to assume in the face of white racism. The paper describes Dunbar’s uses irony and the religious rhetorical to convey the disparity between the false face African-Americans were forced to wear to earn a living in white society. The author shows how the prose illustrates the theme of the socially assumed mask.
The title of Dunbar’s and first lines of the poem may at first suggest a mask that an actor or a performer wears. We wear the mask that grins and lies, / It hides our checks and shades our eyes. (Lines 1-2) However, the next lines of the poem suggest that the nature of the mask that is worn is far more complex than a mask made of paper or plaster. The poem strikes a contrast between African American’s exposed social faces and the bleeding hearts within their apparently smiling, happy exteriors.
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We Wear the Mask?. (2015, Apr 23). Retrieved July 3, 2020, from https://newyorkessays.com/essay-we-wear-the-mask/