The opening line of the poem simultaneously repeats the title and initiates the poem's broader metaphor. The mask, which depicts the false feelings a person may "wear" in front of other people, both grins and lies, indicating that the mask's outer look does not reflect the genuine emotions that lurk underneath it. This metaphor is expanded upon throughout the rest of the poem as Webster describes how even though we might smile with pleasure or pretend to be interested in something else when someone visits, we are actually feeling very different inside.
He concludes that "a true friend is one who knows you better than you know yourself", and since the mask is a visual representation of the hidden truths we wear before others, this metaphor is further expanded upon by saying that a true friend is one who sees beyond our appearances and knows what we really feel deep down inside.
By comparing us to actors, Webster implies that we might put on a face for others but they can never truly see into our hearts. He then goes on to say that there are some things about ourselves that we cannot tell anyone else, even our closest friends because they wouldn't understand them anyway. This part of the poem is also significant because it shows that even though we might want to share everything with our friends, there are some things that only we can admit to.
The poet has expanded the metaphor of "mask" to represent the false persona that individuals put on to disguise their genuine sentiments and emotions from others. This, he believes, is what humanity does at its worst.
He goes on to say that we wear masks for three reasons: to conceal our true feelings, to protect ourselves from people who might harm us if they knew our real identity, or to be like everyone else. The poet also adds that there are times when we wear a mask for no reason at all; perhaps it is just for fun or as a joke.
Now, this isn't exactly what the mask represents but it does serve to explain why people wear masks. Masks have been used for many centuries now so it isn't too surprising that people still use them today in some cultures. A mask can be used to conceal one's identity, but more often than not it is used to express an emotion that may not be appropriate for public display.
For example, if you were to go out tonight and dance at a club you might choose to wear a happy face mask. This would be used as a way to hide your actual feelings (which might make other people feel uncomfortable) while still being able to have some fun.
The speaker portrays profound and extended anguish throughout "We Wear the Mask." In this poetry, the group has "torn and bleeding hearts," "tears and sighs," and "tortured souls" who must continuously pretend they are not hurting. The phrase "We Wear the Mask" serves as both the poem's title and its refrain. It is a metaphor for how everyone living under the oppressive rule of King George III was forced to wear a mask to protect their identity.
King George III was one of England's most beloved monarchs, but he was also very sickly. He suffered from epilepsy, which caused him to have violent seizures that often left him blind or unconscious. His doctors were unable to diagnose his condition correctly, so they resorted to using leeches to try and stop his bleeding head. When these methods failed, they would cut out parts of his skull to try and relieve the pressure.
He ruled over Britain with an iron fist as he tried to combat the American Revolution. But his efforts were in vain; many people loved America more than they did England, and they refused to stand by while their country was attacked by the king. As part of its declaration of independence, America issued a statement writing, "We Wear the Mask". This act showed that even though George III was king, he was not invincible. If need be, his subjects could fight back against him.
So we get to the sole prolonged metaphor in Paul Lawrence Dunbar's "We Wear the Mask," and it's right there in the title. The mask symbolizes the meticulously produced and false version of ourselves that we portray to the world in order to disguise our genuine thoughts and feelings.
It's a powerful image that highlights the dual nature of human existence: We are both flesh and spirit. Our true self is immortal, but we must live each day from moment to moment, so we create masks to hide our true selves from the world.
Wearing a mask is important because without it people would see who we really are. Would not want someone to know what you truly feel about them or your situation. It might cause them to reject you or avoid you entirely. So we wear masks to appear different from how we actually are. To some extent we all do this to some degree. Some people more than others though. They will often exaggerate certain features of their face such as by wearing sunglasses all the time or having a large nose. These things make them look different and sometimes even cool. But despite these efforts many still can tell that they aren't exactly what they seem.
Another reason we wear masks is because it allows us to have fun. If everyone was real then none of us would have any fun. We need our masks to have some amusement during difficult times.