The Afro-Americans were the slaves and therefore expected to be overtly respectful towards the former, failing which called for stern punishment. Born on June 27, 1872, Paul Laurence Dunbar was one of the first African American poets to gain national recognition. Paul Laurence Dunbar (June 27, 1872 – February 9, 1906) was an American poet, novelist, and playwright of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There were so many occasions when poems and slogans were written to boost up the morale of the masses so that they could man against their oppressors and wage a war against them for attaining freedom. This poem shows great wisdom and insight on many levels especially given the time period that it was written. Our site includes quite a bit of content, so if you're having an issue finding what you're looking for, go on ahead and use that search feature there! This poem is in the public domain. They were left to their fate, unattended, left to suffer to the extreme, alone for centuries, with no one to cease the pain. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analysing poetry on Poem Analysis. The poet says that mankind is always in the tendency to conceal, to hide, and to create a notion that is utterly false. Let them not see the true sufferings that they are living. We have to take into consideration the racism that dominated that era. Not only these heroic acts were brought to pass, but there are legends stating how people used these rhymes, slogans, and poems to carry on tasks that were very demanding. Thank you! These symbols show the struggle that black Americans have to live with in society, and the hardships they face on a daily basis. This poem perhaps was written in the light of the sufferings of the African blacks, but can we in the current times save ourselves from the shadows of such social paradoxes. "We Wear the Mask" was written by African American poet and novelist Paul Laurence Dunbar in 1895. They tell the Lord about the hostilities they suffer from, because He is their lone confidant. The words ‘torn’ and ‘bleeding’ are referring to the ample pain that they are living every moment. A mask hides. Ads are what helps us bring you premium content! The poem is structured in the form of a rondeau. They consist of an unstressed and stressed syllable. And mouth with myriad subtleties,… Paul Laurence Dunbar is one of my mom’s favorite poets. The poem continues on to sarcastically ask why humankind should put out the effort to see behind the masks. 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. We Wear the Mask “We Wear the Mask” is a short poem written by Paul Laurence Dunbar in 1895. This does not mean the question lacks importance. 1. Dunbar uses the pronoun "we" to express the collective sufferings of the black people of his time. Every single person that visits has helped contribute, so thank you for your support. Hence, the poem highlights the mechanism adopted by the slaves to deal with their state of servitude. The poem “ We Wear the Mask” was written by Paul Laurence Dunbar .The poem is about the mask, humans wear to disguise pain, sadness, or turmoil when in the company of others. The rhyme scheme of this piece is repetitive, oriented around a refrain. In the first two lines of the third stanza, the poet amplifies this thought. We wear the mask that grins and lies, It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,— These lines are rhyming not only in recitation, but also in the communication of the message. These cookies do not store any personal information. Eyes tell the untold and cheeks let the tears flow. But opting out of some of these cookies may have an effect on your browsing experience. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Yet, they are hiding their state behind that wry smile. This means that each line contains four sets of two beats, or iambs. The mouth in this context is symbolic, and stands for the act of speaking. The poem begins with the speaker stating that “We,” a reference to all of humankind, but specifically black Americans, put on masks. Essays for We Wear the Mask. Let’s understand the lines in the light of the Afro-Americans. The changing times for betterment are yet to arrive that could liberate them from their agony. This Penlighten article summarizes and analyzes the poem in detail. We wear them and others use them to ignore the problems that exist in modern society. It’s easier to let the world know about happiness. Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site. So, putting on a mask hides the eyes and the cheeks. Now, to understand the reason behind the poet’s statement that mankind wears masks, we need to understand the poem line-by-line. The word ‘myriad’ means many or infinite. Paul Laurence Dunbar [1872-1906] was the first African-American poet to garner national critical acclaim. Born in Dayton, Ohio, Dunbar penned a large body of dialect poems, standard English poems, essays, novels and short stories before he died at the age of 33. This means that the poet has affirmed the fact that mankind is double-faced. They fooled the world about their true feelings by smiling at all times. Through this article we will attempt to comprehend the meaning of his much celebrated work, ‘We Wear The Mask’. It causes hearts to bleed and tear. Those tears resulted from deep anguish and distress they were subjected to. To a Captious Critic by Paul Laurence Dunbar, Harriet Beecher Stowe by Paul Laurence Dunbar. They were conferred with the American citizenship after staying there for centuries. It is nearly impossible to get through modern life completely as ones self. In the final lines the speaker explains that the “vile” clay stretches on far “Beneath our feet.” It lasts for miles on end. This is an overwhelming human trait. The African slaves were granted freedom, following the bloody Civil War, which is remembered for the ghastly instances that occurred during the war. Paul Laurence Dunbar, “We Wear the Mask” and W.E.B Dubois Soul of Black Folks December 9, 2014 / shannahbrown “We Wear the Mask” is one of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s most recognized works as it explores the complex emotions of being African American in a … It is written in iambic tetrameter and has many symbols throughout its stanzas. He does no expect to receive an answer. His parents separated shortly after his birth, but Dunbar … It is so clear that we should take the time, but the world does not seem willing to. He is using the word “We” to allow the reader to include themselves in the text. It describes the tragicomic double life black Americans were forced to live in … It veils the reality and creates an impression of something that is unreal in order to hide the reality. It is also one’s own emotional or moral state that changes from situation to situation. The poet says that as the world is seemingly blind to the traumatic conditions of the blacks, then let them continue to do so. They have a deep impact on our understanding of ourselves and others. Throughout this essay I will discuss, describe and interpret Sympathy and We Wear the Mask. In this case the pattern is, aabba aabc aabac. The reason behind this is the human nature of deceiving others. Please support this website by adding us to your whitelist in your ad blocker. 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. That being said, Dunbar is well-known as a pioneer of the Harlem Renaissance. Let them rather see the ‘masked’ faces of the blacks where they are smiling and creating the notion that they are happy and merry. However, many critics think that this poem only applies to individuals who suffered from slavery. In other words, he kind of took a step back and looked at things in a less personal, less emotional way, making "We Wear the Mask" applicable to all sorts of people and circumstances. Their standard of living was at par or even lower than that of animals. The login page will open in a new tab. On this note, it’s worth mentioning the case of the African slaves who were kept as bonded laborers and were treated lowly. The trailing two lines of the second stanza are again self-explanatory. It is through advertising that we are able to contribute to charity. 'We Wear the Mask' happens to be one of the most critically appreciated poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar, and is studied in different educational domains. The poem presents readers with a speaker who speaks in first-person plural, as we and never simply I. We wear the mask that grins and lies, It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,— The speaker opens with the title of the poem, so we know this idea of wearing masks is mighty important since we've heard it twice already (once in the title and now in line 1). This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. The mask is expanded from one’s face to their heart in the last two lines. It sees only the things it wants to see. Having said all of these, the poet goes back to the initial phase, that is to keep wearing the mask of happiness and smile, so that the world doesn’t get a cue of their sufferings and believes that they are really happy people, which in reality is a complete antithesis of reality. But notice and care for them was far from truth. Paul Laurence Dunbar was an Afro-American poet who held humanity above all societal dogmas. He asks why the “world be over-wise” in its counting of “all our tears and sighs?” While this is a very serious question, it is clear the speaker finds something ironic about it. This clearly indicates that the speaker should be regarded as representing a particular or special segment of society. These lines are rhyming not only in recitation, but also in the communication of the message. In the final line the speaker brings back in the title of the poem, “We wear the mask.” This line is used as a reminder that not only are the troubles of the world obscured, they are purposefully hidden, at least to some extent. After all, there are an infinite number of instances where people put up facades to hide their true feelings or circumstances. On one hand, we have "Douglass," which is a poem about Dunbar calling on to Frederick Douglass, a prominent figure in the freeing of the slaves, asking for him to come and save them … “We Wear the Mask” was published in 1896. But their trauma was hidden with a smile and lies behind the mask. Dunbar was likely referring to the struggle to achieve equal rights, overcome segregation and racial violence. Singing can only go on for so long on a world built on a “vile” structure. We Wear the Mask Upon the first reading of “We Wear the Mask,” one is immediately convinced of the universality with which Paul Laurence Dunbar speaks of peoples’ hypocrisies. In regards to meter, the lines follow a pattern of iambic tetrameter. Fast forward to now, the words become even more relevant - we all have a mask of one kind or another. Mask is an epitome of disguise, falsity, camouflage, and secrecy. This website uses cookies to improve your experience. Paul Laurence Dunbar, born in 1872 and the author of numerous collections of poetry and prose, was one of the first African American poets to gain national recognition. In “We Wear the Mask” and “Sympathy,” Paul Laurence Dunbar depicts the harmful effects of racism through the use of symbolism, violent imagery, and a gloomy mood to develop the theme that oppression by society causes a desire for freedom among minorities. The meaning of the poem "Sympathy" by Paul Laurence Dunbar is that, as an African American man, the poet empathizes with the bird locked in a cage and the lack of freedom he feels as he views the outside world. The magnitude of the sufferings was high. We Wear the Mask By Paul Laurence Dunbar About this Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar was born on June 27, 1872 to freed slaves from Kentucky. She liked to read his poetry to us when we were kids, including We Wear the Mask. His parents Joshua and Matilda Murphy Dunbar were freed slaves from Kentucky. The Meaning "We Wear the Mask" focuses mainly on the issue of racism faced by many African-Americans like the poet himself. The mask that is posing ‘grins,’ it is uttering ‘lies’. Both Sympathy and We Wear the Mask were written by Paul Laurence Dunbar. It very well used the concept of symbolic inferences, in its usage of the ‘mask’ as a symbol of scripted reality. The word, ‘tortured souls’ proclaimed their state of deep suffering. All people are among those who “wear mask[s].”. 1: Spoken-word poem adapted from “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1896). He speaks about the plight of the … Fahrenheit 451 Through the Lens of "We Wear the Mask" and "Barn Burning" Double Consciousness and the Harlem Renaissance The troubles of the world are so numerous they are too many to count. Sign up to receive the latest and greatest articles from our site automatically each week (give or take)...right to your inbox. The only time the pattern changes is in the refrain which only contains two sets of beats. The lives of many Africans changed for they were elevated to a new level in the societal race. One is only able to overcome an unsteady and dangerous situation for a limited period of time. One’s mouth contains a smile but also a “myriad,” or a great variety of, “subtleties.”. Ha! ‘We Wear the Mask’ by Paul Laurence Dunbar describes the way that “We” put on, and accept the presence of masks. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. Hearts are changed through tearing and mouths contain endless expressions. Let’s take a closer look. It is also the line which later became the title of the poem. We also use third-party cookies that help us analyze and understand how you use this website. This is truly an enthralling question which still seeks for an answer. These are clear emotional expressions which are used here to represent the deepest of societal problems. He explains how “We smile” but no matter what the “cries” come out from “tortured souls.” They “arise” from behind the mask and into the real, knowable world. The final stanza of this piece contains six lines. It begins with the speaker increasing the already dark nature of the piece. Response on “We Wear the Mask” Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “We Wear the Mask” attempts to convey that all of humanity wears a mask for basic survival. The first stanza holds up the myriad feelings that humans feel simultaneously. The slaves always wore a smile on their faces. Such is the power of words. Both of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s parents were slaves, and he was born less than a decade after slavery became illegal. But let the world dream otherwise, We wear the mask! Thus talking about wearing the mask yet again. Thus these lines hint towards the poet’s mocking intention. The stooped condition of the Afro-Americans of the time kindled his wits to pen down this wonderful poetry which upheld the multiple shades of human nature. Ha! It's an amazing poem. We provide informative and helpful articles about the newest fiction and nonfiction books on the market that you can come back to again and again when you have the urge for a new book to dig into. Paul Laurence Dunbar writes these two very different in meaning poems. The speaker goes on to attribute the masks to being the product of “human guile.” In this context guile refers to a general deceitfulness. 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,And mouth with myriad subtleties.Why should the world be over-wise, In counting all our tears and sighs?Nay, let them only see us, while We wear the mask. Ha! The word ‘vile’ refers to something that is ugly and bad. Dunbar wrote about what it was like to be African American during the late 1800s and the pain experienced by the black community. These lines begin with the speaker asking a rhetorical question. The above quoted lines shed light on the fact that, the world doesn’t need to be told about the plight and misery of the slaves of that time. Translation of 'We Wear the Mask' by Paul Laurence Dunbar from English to German (Version #2) Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Translation of 'We Wear the Mask' by Paul Laurence Dunbar from English to German Deutsch English Español Français Hungarian Italiano Nederlands Polski Português (Brasil) Română Svenska Türkçe Ελληνικά Български Русский Српски العربية 日本語 한국어 In such formidable conditions, they narrated poems and sang songs that could motivate them to bear that kind of inhuman treatment. Dunbar was one of the first to create a more objective perspective of what was going on in American culture. The mechanism being a mask to hide the bitter truth from the already blindfolded world. What's your thoughts? After logging in you can close it and return to this page. The word ‘clay’ perhaps refers to the world, the earth, our home. The poet describes that these suffering slaves not only smile in pain but also sing. We hope you are enjoying Penlighten! The sarcasm is not yet over! The title is self-explanatory in the sense that ‘we’ refers to mankind, thus suggesting that people wear masks. But at the end of the day, when they prayed to the Lord, they know that He alone can see their tears behind the smile. We Wear the Mask meaning Subscribe to our mailing list and get new poetry analysis updates straight to your inbox. They in the true nature of deceiving are wearing a deceitful smile, hiding the extremely agonized heart behind it. 6789 Quail Hill Pkwy, Suite 211 Irvine CA 92603.
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