Critical Analysis Of We Wear The Mask By Paul Laurence Dunbar

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Critical Statement: In “We Wear the Mask”, Paul Laurence Dunbar employs the shift in the symbol of the mask to elucidate the tribulations imposed upon a isolated community. In the first stanza of the poem, Dunbar emphasizes the mask as a facade which forcefully obscures the authentic sentiments of a segregated community. The stanza introduces the masks’ objective and prowess in deception. Furthermore, it investigates the effects of the mask on its host. The author writes, “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” (Dunbar 1-4). The utilization of a personifying element that humanizes the mask, in the phrase, “We wear the mask that grins and…show more content…
Moreover, the role of the mask is signified as a false interceptor of perception and translator of emotion. Similarly, the notion of the mask’s motive is demonstrated through the continued implementation of personification, in order to clarify the mask’s identity as an abstract entity, in the sentence, “It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,”. The mask is also depicted as an entity forced upon a specific populace as a form of humiliation, as exemplified through Dunbar’s use of words like “debt” and “human guile” being operated in conjunction. These words communicate the believe that selfish intelligence is responsible for the creation of a “debt” or contract, which binds the community into unpleasant situation they are unsatisfied with. Dunbar also incorporates a cynical tone through the application of negatively connotated words such as, “lies”, “hides”, “shades”, “debt”, “guile”, “torn” and “bleeding”, that represent a disagreeable side of our species. Moreover, these words also convey the emotions of suffering and dissatisfaction behind a forceful “smile” that the mask places upon them. The deceptive mask that is personified as
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