Paul Lawrence Dunbar We Wear The Mask Summary

1062 Words5 Pages
Have you ever found it hard to be yourself around others or have felt like you cannot be true to your emotions? Well so has Paul Lawrence Dunbar. Dunbar’s poem, “We Wear the Mask,” he sends the message that he is unable to express his true feelings. Dunbar wrote the poem in 1896, but his message is still relevant today. The poem’s historical context, theme, and symbolism make it easy to understand and let us know exactly what Dunbar is talking about; while the diction and ambiguity allow the audience to apply the theme to their own situations.
Dunbar was born in 1872, seven years after the civil war ended. This time in the United States it was legal for people to discriminate against African Americans. Poll taxes and the grandfather clauses
…show more content…
Through the historical context and tone of the poem it is obvious that society could care less about what the African Americans are going through (which ties into the last theme). Dunbar is putting on this “mask” to please society, but it is refraining him from being himself. This is what is causing his suffering. He has to pretend like he is fine with everything that is happening, but that takes away from what his true emotions are. So although hiding his emotions might please society, he is torturing himself by doing it.
The symbolism in the poem is very obvious, which allows us to grasp the message Dunbar is trying to send much easier. The main symbol in the poem is the mask. The mask symbolizes deception. He is lying to the rest of the world when he smiles or laughs because that is not what he is actually feeling. This is the most important symbol in the poem because it ties in with the themes of the poem. If we wear a mask, then we are lying to the rest of the world about who we are and what we feel, which then turns into things not being as they seem. The symbol of the mask is driving the poem into its true
Open Document