Compare And Contrast A Certain Lady And We Wear The Mask

861 Words4 Pages
Anna Campbell
Professor Himmel
ENC 1102
19 March 2018
Keeping Up Appearances
Popular culture is fascinated with the unreliability of appearances, yet many individuals feel the need to hide reality behind a false appearance. A beast may truly be a handsome prince, but regular people must conceal their flaws. This conflict is described in the poems “We Wear the Mask,” by Paul Laurence Dunbar, and “A Certain Lady,” by Dorothy Parker, with varied emotions; Dunbar addresses the subject with sorrow, whereas the tone of Parker’s poem is bitter and mocking.
In “We Wear the Mask,” Paul Laurence Dunbar uses the image of a mask to describe the way outward appearances can give false impressions of a person. In the first line, he describes the titular
…show more content…
The narrator “can smile for you” and “can laugh and marvel, rapturous-eyed” but describes her heart as having died a “thousand little deaths” (Parker 1, 6, 8). The repetition of “can” causes the actions to seem emotionless and forced, while the list of actions seems like a recital of meaningless statements and not from genuine feeling. As a result, the pain of the narrator is not a surprise; rather, her diction implies it before she describes it directly. When she does explain her feeling of anguish and heartache, her usage of hyperbole and metaphor lends force to her description. Her emotionless, rehearsed list of ways she falsifies her feelings and reactions contrasts to the grieved description of her sorrow at his…show more content…
This is most evident in the final lines: “Oh, I can kiss you blithely as you go..../And what goes on, my love, while you 're away/You 'll never know” (Parker 22-24). Parker’s use of the ellipsis lends a pause for dramatic effect, almost as if the narrator is closing the door behind the one she loves before expressing truer sentiment; once he can no longer see her, her lighthearted smile turns into a bitter or mocking smirk as she muses upon “what goes on” while he is away. Whether the reader interprets “what goes on” as simply the narrator’s hurt or as her own romantic straying, the ending of the poem expresses her bitterness concerning her love’s ignorance of her pain at his

More about Compare And Contrast A Certain Lady And We Wear The Mask

Open Document