Paul Laurence Dunbar's 'All Wear The Mask'

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The Mask We All Wear In one-way or another Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask” can apply to everyone at one point in his or her life. The theme is about concealing pain and suffering by hiding true emotions. Dunbar uses an extended metaphor throughout the whole poem to portray this theme of concealing true emotions. He uses the word mask because a mask covers the face and makes it difficult for people to see what is behind it. The way Dunbar uses the mask to explain the theme is incredible and allows the reader to create a very bold image in ones head. Dunbar’s poem “We Wear the Mask” does not consist of many small instances of figurative language, however there is one extended metaphor that runs throughout the entire poem. This metaphor…show more content…
The mask is a great metaphor to use because when someone is wearing a mask others are unable to see the true image behind it. Therefore when someone is wearing a mask it is very deceitful and hard to know what the person underneath is truly feeling. Dunbar writes “We wear the mask that grins and lies”(l.1), this mask that he refers to is grinning on the outside to portray to others that everything is all right, but the mask is really lying because everything is not all right. The person wearing the mask is really suffering and in pain, but he does not want anyone to know his true emotions. We can tell he is suffering because in line four Dunbar writes, “With torn and bleeding hearts we smile”(l.4). If a heart is torn and bleeding then that person is definitely not smiling, they would be in a state of panic. The reason someone is smiling is so that people do not know that he or she is truly hurting. They do not want people to know so they are using a fake smile in order to make it look like everything is okay and that nothing is wrong with them. We see this again in line ten, “We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries To thee from tortured souls arise”(l.10-11). Again this is another…show more content…
Dunbar strategically highlights the cheeks and eyes of the face because these are two areas where emotions are most recognizable. The cheeks are also influenced by the smile, which ultimately is the strongest way to determine someone’s emotions. The eyes have been linked to many things regarding human emotions, none bigger than “the eyes are the windows to the soul”(Peng Liyuan). So if the eyes are windows to the soul then a person could be able to read someone’s emotions just based off their eyes because the soul is where all emotions are created. Therefore if both the eyes and the cheeks are hidden it is very difficult for someone to read another’s emotions simply based off of their face. It is also clear to us by line eight that the speaker does not want anyone to see him unless he is wearing the mask, “Nay, let them only see us, while We wear the mask.”(l.8-9). No matter what the circumstances are the speaker always has the mask on and never lets anyone see under it. By the end the speaker just accepts what people depict of the mask, “But let the world dream otherwise, We wear the mask!”(l.14-15). He does not care what people think anymore about the mask he only cares about himself wearing the mask. He will continue to wear the mask for the remainder of his

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