Paul Lawrence Dunbar We Wear The Mask Analysis

681 Words3 Pages

The poem I chose to analyze is We Wear the Mask, written by Paul Lawrence Dunbar in 1896. Its theme is about hiding our true feelings and emotions, and lying about who we are. When looking at Dunbar’s life history, and the political context at the time, we understand that he efficiently uses this theme in order to talk about how black people have to hide how they feel about their social status and the treatment they receive from white people. He conveys the theme to the audience thanks to a clever word choice. Indeed, he talks about “grin” and “smile”, using facial expressions as a description of the mask (Dunbar, lines 1 & 4). We realize he’s talking about the mask, and not the real emotions of the person, thanks to a contrast between negative …show more content…

It is, obviously, a symbolic one, that is meant to hide the suffering of people. It hides everything, “our cheeks and […] our eyes”, and “the eyes [being] the mirror of the soul”, the mask hides the inner you. (Dunbar, l. 2) (Paulo Coelho, Manuscript Found in Accra). But, in addition to the hiding, there’s also the lie about the emotion. Indeed, the mask isn’t only meant to hide the emotions, but also to create new ones on the surface, as we can see when the author said “We wear the mask that […] lies” (Dunbar, l. 1). Beside his word choice, Dunbar connects the reader thanks to literary devices. We can notice an alliteration in -m in line 5, with the words “mouth” and “myriad” (Dunbar, l. 5). This alliteration emphasizes these words, and, as a consequence, the word “subtleties”, which follows “myriad” (Dunbar, l. 5). We can also notice the allusion to the Christian religion, with the reference to the “Christ” (Dunbar, l. 10). It reflects the theme perfectly, because the Christ suffered a lot, especially when he carried his cross, but he never failed to show his pain, hiding his suffering. Moreover, it helps connect the reader to the poem, since some people were and are …show more content…

The reason why I chose it is that its theme is really similar to Dunbar’s poem’s theme. Indeed, it is about hiding the deceiving reality in order to protect ourselves and our relatives. The theme, however, doesn’t have the same political engagement as Dunbar’s poem. The word choice used by the band reflects the theme. Indeed, we have positive words associated to negative ones, such as “dreams […] fail”, which show the disappointment experienced by the narrator (Imagine Dragons, l. 5). This disappointment, the singer wants to hide, as he repeats several times “I wanna hide the truth” or “There’s nowhere we can hide” (Imagine Dragons, l. 9 & 12). He associates what he wants to hide to a “beast” and to “demons”, which shows how he despises what he feels. As in Dunbar’s poem, he refers to the eyes, saying that “it’s where [his] demons hide”, repeating this sentence four times by chorus, which emphasizes the desire to hide his suffering (Imagine Dragons, l. 19). The band uses allusions to religion, as Dunbar did, with terms such as “saints”, “demons” and “hell” (Imagine Dragons, l. 2, 19, & 34). We can even say that the “kingdom” the singer mentions can be a religious allusion to heaven (Imagine Dragons, l. 15). The author connects the reader thanks to different literary and figurative devices as

Show More
Open Document