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Copyright © Penlighten &, Inc. A mask hides. 6789 Quail Hill Pkwy, Suite 211 Irvine CA 92603. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Ads are what helps us bring you premium content! They appeared content and satisfied with their state of slavery, with their fateful existence. But opting out of some of these cookies may have an effect on your browsing experience. Hence, the poem highlights the mechanism adopted by the slaves to deal with their state of servitude. This poem is in the public domain. In the final line the speaker brings back in the title of the poem, “We wear the mask.” This line is used as a reminder that not only are the troubles of the world obscured, they are purposefully hidden, at least to some extent. The word, ‘tortured souls’ proclaimed their state of deep suffering. This likely means that the “We” is geared more towards black Americans. This means that each line contains four sets of two beats, or iambs. The Meaning "We Wear the Mask" focuses mainly on the issue of racism faced by many African-Americans like the poet himself. It does not take much skill to take in the”tears and sighs” of the world. ‘We Wear the Mask’ by Paul Laurence Dunbar describes the way that “We” put on, and accept the presence of masks. The above quoted lines shed light on the fact that, the world doesn’t need to be told about the plight and misery of the slaves of that time. He does no expect to receive an answer. You also have the option to opt-out of these cookies. In regards to meter, the lines follow a pattern of iambic tetrameter. The Language of the Black Condition and All Conditions: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask” 984 Words | 4 Pages. Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. And Langston Hughes belonged to the Harlem Renaissance, the period characterized by the rebirth of the culture of the black, that aimed to uplift the race and gain equality. Their standard of living was at par or even lower than that of animals. He mocks the world to remain blindfolded as the blacks suffer without a complaint, in silence and deceit. It is posed to make one consider the state of the world and perhaps further the question themselves. The first stanza holds up the myriad feelings that humans feel simultaneously. Like much of Dunbar's work, "We Wear the Mask" is a reaction to the experience of being black in America in the late 19th century, following the Civil War—a period when life seemed to have improved for black Americans yet in reality was still marked by intense racism and hardship. Victoria Thomas, of Saint Pauls High School, recites "We Wear the Mask" by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Both of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s parents were slaves, and he was born less than a decade after slavery became illegal. Thus talking about wearing the mask yet again. Let’s understand the lines in the light of the Afro-Americans. But at the end of the day, when they prayed to the Lord, they know that He alone can see their tears behind the smile. The word ‘clay’ perhaps refers to the world, the earth, our home. They were left to their fate, unattended, left to suffer to the extreme, alone for centuries, with no one to cease the pain. This is truly an enthralling question which still seeks for an answer. We Wear the Mask “We Wear the Mask” is a short poem written by Paul Laurence Dunbar in 1895. The use of the word “counting” emphasizes this fact. It sees only the things it wants to see. Here the words that hold significance are ‘mouth’, ‘myriad’ and ‘subtleties’. These cookies will be stored in your browser only with your consent. The slaves always wore a smile on their faces. The Afro-Americans were the slaves and therefore expected to be overtly respectful towards the former, failing which called for stern punishment. Used with permission from Caged Bird Legacy, LLC. The reason behind this is the human nature of deceiving others. It is through advertising that we are able to contribute to charity. The word ‘mile’ refers to the long stretches of time that still need to pass. This website uses cookies to improve your experience. Dunbar was one of the first to create a more objective perspective of what was going on in American culture. Dunbar was likely referring to the struggle to achieve equal rights, overcome segregation and racial violence. It’s easier to let the world know about happiness. Ha! Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site. In this case the pattern is, aabba aabc aabac. The meaning of the poem "Sympathy" by Paul Laurence Dunbar is that, as an African American man, the poet empathizes with the bird locked in a cage and the lack of freedom he feels as he views the outside world. Please continue to help us support the fight against dementia. And mouth with myriad subtleties,… Paul Laurence Dunbar is one of my mom’s favorite poets. These lines are rhyming not only in recitation, but also in the communication of the message. The login page will open in a new tab. But let the world dream otherwise, We wear the mask! But, giving in to their conditions, they accepted things as they were without qualms. Who Are The Most Romantic Literary Figures of All Time? Hearts are changed through tearing and mouths contain endless expressions. Throughout this essay I will discuss, describe and interpret Sympathy and We Wear the Mask. Sarcastic towards the world’s indifference and melancholic about the sad state of affairs. These cookies do not store any personal information. She liked to read his poetry to us when we were kids, including We Wear the Mask. I believe Mr Dunbar's parents were former slaves so it was vital to put on a happy face to survive. This three-stanza poem is worth a million words, in its fashion to state the hardships of the Afro-Americans of his time. After logging in you can close it and return to this page. It becomes a strain on those who do not have to deal with them in their everyday lives. The poem continues on to sarcastically ask why humankind should put out the effort to see behind the masks. We do as we have been destined to do. Related Content. It is nearly impossible to get through modern life completely as ones self. The end sounds repeat throughout this piece, with the refrain, “We wear the mask” appearing at the end of the second and third stanza. The fourth stanza of this piece is a quatrain, meaning it contains four lines. Dunbar wrote about what it was like to be African American during the late 1800s and the pain experienced by the black community. He concludes by utilizing another sarcastic statement. We hope you are enjoying Penlighten! ‘Debt’ and ‘guile’ are again two strong words that personify human action and deceit. The poem begins with the speaker stating that “We,” a reference to all of humankind, but specifically black Americans, put on masks. They were no longer ‘slaves’, but were Afro-Americans. Fahrenheit 451 Through the Lens of "We Wear the Mask" and "Barn Burning" Double Consciousness and the Harlem Renaissance But notice and care for them was far from truth. The speaker goes on to attribute the masks to being the product of “human guile.” In this context guile refers to a general deceitfulness. On a broader note, the poem states the impact of sufferings inflicted on the minority on grounds of racial divide. Let’s read further. we wear the mask that grins and lies, it hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, This debt we pay to human guile;With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,And mouth with myriad subtleties.Why should the world be over-wise, In counting all our tears and sighs?Nay, let them only see us, while We wear the mask. His parents separated shortly after his birth, but Dunbar … It uses its discretion to use its wisdom. His parents Joshua and Matilda Murphy Dunbar were freed slaves from Kentucky. These symbols show the struggle that black Americans have to live with in society, and the hardships they face on a daily basis. The poem begins with the speaker stating that “We,” a reference to all of humankind, but specifically black Americans, put on masks. Let them rather see the ‘masked’ faces of the blacks where they are smiling and creating the notion that they are happy and merry. But their trauma was hidden with a smile and lies behind the mask. It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—, In the first stanza of this piece the speaker begins by utilizing the refrain. Paul Laurence Dunbar, “We Wear the Mask” and W.E.B Dubois Soul of Black Folks December 9, 2014 / shannahbrown “We Wear the Mask” is one of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s most recognized works as it explores the complex emotions of being African American in a … It spoke for itself. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analysing poetry on Poem Analysis. The poet describes that these suffering slaves not only smile in pain but also sing. It is also one’s own emotional or moral state that changes from situation to situation. Yet, they are hiding their state behind that wry smile. The rhyme scheme of this piece is repetitive, oriented around a refrain. Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem, “We Wear The Mask” cleverly talks of the black condition in a language so universal that it could apply to any race of people that tries to hide their emotions from the world in order to survive. 1: Spoken-word poem adapted from “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1896). Positivity and optimism can only last so long on a faulty foundation. The changing times for betterment are yet to arrive that could liberate them from their agony. This poem perhaps was written in the light of the sufferings of the African blacks, but can we in the current times save ourselves from the shadows of such social paradoxes. It also creates hype over trivialities and brags about it. These are clear emotional expressions which are used here to represent the deepest of societal problems. One is only able to overcome an unsteady and dangerous situation for a limited period of time. The mechanism being a mask to hide the bitter truth from the already blindfolded world. The mask is expanded from one’s face to their heart in the last two lines. On this note, it’s worth mentioning the case of the African slaves who were kept as bonded laborers and were treated lowly. Paul Laurence Dunbar used vivid, descriptive and symbolic language to portray images in his poetry of the senseless prejudices and racism that African Americans faced in America. The magnitude of the sufferings was high. However, many critics think that this poem only applies to individuals who suffered from slavery. They do ardently believe that it is Lord alone who can sympathize with them and make better their wretched conditions. The trailing two lines of the second stanza are again self-explanatory. Born on June 27, 1872, Paul Laurence Dunbar was one of the first African American poets to gain national recognition. It's an amazing poem. We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously. So, putting on a mask hides the eyes and the cheeks. Rather than the world taking a very small amount of time to consider the truth behind the mask, they “only see” the surface. This does not mean the question lacks importance. Response on “We Wear the Mask” Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “We Wear the Mask” attempts to convey that all of humanity wears a mask for basic survival. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website. 'We Wear the Mask' happens to be one of the most critically appreciated poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar, and is studied in different educational domains. The mask that is posing ‘grins,’ it is uttering ‘lies’. He asks why the “world be over-wise” in its counting of “all our tears and sighs?” While this is a very serious question, it is clear the speaker finds something ironic about it. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. We Wear the Mask Upon the first reading of “We Wear the Mask,” one is immediately convinced of the universality with which Paul Laurence Dunbar speaks of peoples’ hypocrisies. We wear the mask that grins and lies, It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,--This debt we pay to human guile; With torn and bleeding hearts we smile. What's your thoughts? We Wear the Mask essays are academic essays for citation. The only time the pattern changes is in the refrain which only contains two sets of beats. The sarcasm is not yet over!

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