We Wear the Mask by Paul Lawrence Dunbar Essay

We Wear the Mask by Paul Lawrence Dunbar Essay

Length: 1960 words (5.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Paul Dunbar was an famous African- American poet known for his famous literary works and gained national critical aclaim for his ability to transform the struggle of the black race into powerful poems. His mother and farmer were both former slaves who served in the army. Dun bar’s family grew in extreme poverty, but his mother was always supportive of Dunbar’s love for poems which stemmed from having heard them from the family she used to work for.
During Dunbar’s older years he attended Dayton’s central high and was the only black students however his scholarly abitlities was what distinguished him from the rest. He was class poet and president of the literary society in school. During this time period he searched through many poets work in order to find his own “voice”.
The poem “ We Wear the Mask” was written by Paul Laurence Dunbar. The poem is about the substantial suffering of black people and how it is essential to mold a happy face that acts as a survival tactic. At the beginning of the poem we see that the people’s hearts are not just"torn" (4) but also "bleeding" (4) which really emphasizes the struggle behind the mask. In the median of the poem no one exhibits care for the blacks or attempts to analyze if the people are really happy, and simply disregard it. In contrast, the world’s non caring attitude is also prevalent when the speaker says “Why should the world be over-wise” (6), meaning not only is there a substantial amount of pain being felt, but the world's not even paying attention, which makes the speaker's suffering worse. Lastly, the poem transitions to the people calling “ O great Christ” (10). The people call for Christ out of hopelessness, and because they feel only he understands their pain.The end of ...


... middle of paper ...


...aged his health” ( 10). “ We Wear the Mask” is about Dunbar’s own internal suffering, and how people are never really what they seem.



Works Cited

Dunbar, Laurence Paul. “ After the Quarrel”. The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar. New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company. 1922. 40. Print.
Dunbar, Laurence Paul. “ We Wear the Mask.” The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. Eds. Gates, Henry Louis and Nellie Y. Mckay. New York: W.W. Norton, 1977. Print.
Dunbar, Laurence Paul. “ Temptation “. The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar. New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company.1922. 146. Print.
“The Life of Paul Laurence Dunbar." 3 Feb. 2003. Web.
Howells, William D. "Publishers' Bindings Online: Paul Laurence Dunbar." Publishers' Bindings Online: Paul Laurence Dunbar. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
"Paul Laurence Dunbar." Poetry Foundation. Web. 09 Apr. 2014.


Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

We Wear the Mastk by Paul Lawrence Dunbar Essay

- The readings were insightful and had interesting approaches to Negro mood. They had many emotional elements that were for the readers understanding of the different situations Negroes faced. When looking at the writings collectively they create a timeline. The timeline shows the various changes the Negroes mindset has gone through. The reader is exposed to three types of Negroes; one, the compliant Negro who knows his place, two, the Negro with will take his revenge and three, Negro who is conflicted between his desires and his responsibilities to his people....   [tags: poem analysis, literary worth]

Powerful Essays
768 words (2.2 pages)

An Ubiquitous Poem, We Wear the Mask by Paul Lawrence Dunbar Essay

- We Wear the Mask, written in 1886 by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, is a ubiquitous poem that has a copious amount of interpretations; nonetheless, one of the most prevalent interpretation of the poem is that of Paul Dunbar’s background. Paul Dunbar was an African American who grew up during the time of slavery; consequently, We Wear the Mask is conceived to be written as an exemplification of the grievances faced by African Americans, during the period of slavery. Though We Wear the Mask was written over a century ago and for a reason – life for African American, during the period of slavery – it can be applied to numerous social situations faced in our present society; one of them being domestic ab...   [tags: slavery, victims, bullied]

Powerful Essays
568 words (1.6 pages)

Essay about Putting on a Happy Face in We Wear the Mask by Paul Lawrence Dunbar

- Most would agree that putting a smile on the face will almost allow a feeling of joy to start from within. Furthermore, what is known is that every coin has two sides and within that dark side, the smile has many different facets. The thought and discipline in civil resistance on others that look upon some as inferior is a sign of a goodly man. In “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar one facet it shows is his oppression in the world and vagueness one must reflect; through his poem, it shows the revolting world he lives in and the smile of obscurity to conceal himself from the evils in the world....   [tags: concealment, emotions, privacy]

Powerful Essays
617 words (1.8 pages)

We Wear the Mask Essay

- William Shakespeare once proclaimed that “the past is prologue.” Are we really bound by history. Is our present a mere continuation, a monomorphic continuation if you will, of the novel that is our existence, or can it be developed in a bifurcated fashion. Paul Lawrence Dunbar, prominently noted as the "Poet Laureate of the Negro Race" (p 905) is a prime example of how the past can be depicted in a multifold manner. His two works " We Wear the Mask" and "An Ante-Bellum Sermon" illustrate the double-consciousness that Dunbar was most notorious for....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Paul Laurence Dunbar]

Powerful Essays
1759 words (5 pages)

The Language of the Black Condition and All Conditions: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask”

- 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. Dunbar argues for the reality of the black man’s plight in America, the black man's struggle for equality in the world, and the struggle for peace within. These are circumstances of the poet’s life that influenced his writing of the poem. PARAGRAPH 2: Background information on your author or document....   [tags: Paul Laurence Dunbar, We Wear the Mask, ]

Powerful Essays
979 words (2.8 pages)

The Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar: We Wear the Mask and When Malindy Sings

- Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in a northern town near Dayton, Ohio on June 27, 1872 (Brawley 12). His parents instilled in him the value of an education, and he excelled at the all-white Dayton Central High-school where he held the titles of class president, the president of the school literary society, and the editor of the school's newspaper (15). Dunbar was extremely well learned; he spoke and wrote in Standard English, but just as often his poetry was written in black dialect. As one of the first professional African American literary figures (Baym 1038), Paul Laurence Dunbar's poetry consists of two distinct styles: his dialect pieces with the simple rhyme schemes of the ballad lyrical...   [tags: Paul Laurence Dunbar Poetry]

Powerful Essays
1728 words (4.9 pages)

An Analysis of Paul Laurence Dunbar's We Wear the Mask Essay

- An Analysis of Paul Laurence Dunbar's We Wear the Mask It has been said many time that "You can't judge a book by its cover" and "Don't judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes". A person may appear one way on the outside but may be feeling the total opposite on the inside. He may be masking his true emotions with a false appearance. In "We Wear the Mask" it seems that Paul Laurence Dunbar is conveying this message to his audience. The African-American slaves of the early United States are prime examples of how emotions can be repressed....   [tags: We Wear the Mask Essays]

Free Essays
503 words (1.4 pages)

Analysis of We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar Essay

- Analysis of We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar is a renowned piece of literature that has been the subject of various literary criticisms over the years. Because of the poem’s indirectness and generalized ambiguity, the interpretation of the “we” that wears the “mask” and why they do so is left unanimously undisclosed. It is up to the interpreter and the support given by the interpreter to produce a valid representation of the meaning that lies beneath the mask....   [tags: Slavery Racism We Wear the Mask Essays]

Powerful Essays
1336 words (3.8 pages)

The Influential Work of Paul Laurence Dunbar Essay

- The Influential Work of Paul Laurence Dunbar Many writers begin writing and showing literary talent when they are young. Paul Laurence Dunbar, born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, was already editor of a newspaper and had had two of his poems published in the local newspaper before he’d graduated from high school. His classmate, Orville Wright, printed The Tattler which Dunbar edited and published for the local African American community. After graduating from high school, he was forced to get a job as an elevator operator which allowed him spare time for writing....   [tags: Dunbar, Poetry]

Powerful Essays
1032 words (2.9 pages)

?An Interpretation of Paul Laurence Dunbar?s Poem Sympathy and We Wear the Mask?

- Throughout African American history, African Americans have used poems as a way of describing the African American condition in America. One poet who was widely known for using poetry to describe the condition of African Americans in America was Paul Laurence Dunbar. Paul Laurence Dunbar was one of the most prolific poets of his time. 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....   [tags: essays research papers]

Powerful Essays
1208 words (3.5 pages)