By employing the first person plural pronoun "we," the speaker of Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem "We Wear the Mask" refers to downtrodden, disenfranchised African Americans. Dunbar exemplifies how many African Americans living in racist settings actively smile and keep a nice demeanor...
The speaker of "We Wear the Mask" is not identified by name, but he or she is from Baltimore, Maryland, and most likely a black man because at that time in American history only blacks were able to enjoy the right to vote.
In the first stanza, the speaker states that although they wear a mask, they are really just like everyone else. They go to work, take out the trash, and eat when they can. In other words, they play by the rules of society even though they are not accepted for who they are.
In the second stanza, the speaker says they wear the mask to protect their loved ones from their true feelings.
But let the rest of the world dream, or we will wear the mask! Dunbar ends his repeat of "We wear the mask" with an exclamation mark in the poem's final line, underlining that the grin African Americans appear to wear is only a façade. It is their hidden pain that hurts most of all.
Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem "We Wear the Mask" employs irony to portray the concept that African-Americans present a false front (the "mask") to the rest of the world. The irony is that they look to be happy because of the mask, but they are not in reality.
In the first stanza, the poet asks why African Americans wear the mask. He then answers his own question by saying that they do so "in case they should meet a Southern white man". Since whites tend to despise blacks who show them some love, the blacks want to look good for each other even if they cannot be honest with one another.
In the second stanza, the poet tells Negroes not to worry about the trouble they see on others' faces because it is only a mask. They are actually very happy inside despite their appearances. This contradicts what many people believe about African Americans, that they are unhappy even though they appear to be content.
In the third stanza, the poet talks about how the mask affects those who wear it. He says that they become different people behind its eyes. For example, someone who is kind and loving when no one is watching becomes cruel and violent when someone does watch. This shows that the mask can change how individuals act just like the poet said in the second stanza: they seem happy but they are not.
Metaphor is one of the literary strategies used by Dunbar in "We Wear the Mask." The speaker asserts, symbolically, that "we wear the mask that grins and lies," implying that the group he is speaking for conceals their genuine sentiments and emotions behind an appealing exterior. Metaphors can also be used to compare two things simultaneously, thus demonstrating their similarity or connection.
In "We Wear the Mask", the metaphor of masks comes up repeatedly. The group says they hide their true feelings because "a face only shows you what it wants you to see," and "a man's face is his fortune." They imply that we should not judge people by how they appear on the outside but rather by what is inside them. This idea is demonstrated through several metaphors.
The first example uses the analogy of faces to describe how people present themselves to the world: "A face only shows you what you want it to show you." This implies that we should not judge people based on how they look but rather on what is inside them. This idea is further developed in the next sentence, where the group states that "the most beautiful flowers grow in the darkest places." These flowers represent men who have worn masks all their lives and do not know what real beauty is.
Paul Laurence Dunbar was a poet of African descent. Dunbar was one of the first renowned African-American poets of his day, well remembered for his use of an unorthodox rhyme system in "We Wear the Mask," which deviated from traditional poetry. His work appeared in publications including The New York Tribune and The Journal of Commerce.
Born in 1872 in Baltimore, Maryland, Dunbar grew up there and in Lexington, Kentucky. He obtained a teaching license but never taught school. Instead, he worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers in Baltimore and Louisville, Kentucky. In 1893, he moved to New York City where he became associated with several important black journals of the time. He also met with considerable success as a poet. Dunbar's work was so popular that it sold out many editions of its own release.
In 1904, Dunbar published his first collection of poems, called simply Poems. This book is considered by many to be the birth of modern American poetry. In it, Dunbar introduced a number of poetic techniques that are still used today such as allusion, metaphor, and personification. He also coined the term "blackface minstrelsy" to describe the racist stereotyping of blacks in entertainment during this period.
In 1918, Dunbar died at the age of 36 after suffering from tuberculosis for several years.
That leads us to Paul Lawrence Dunbar's one and only extended metaphor in "We Wear the Mask," which is right there in the title. The mask is the meticulously prepared and false version of ourselves that we portray to the world in order to conceal our genuine thoughts and feelings. In other words, it's an act.
Now, here's where things get interesting: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word "metaphor" comes from two Greek terms meaning "to transfer" and "to set up a comparison." That means that when we use metaphors, we are trying to explain something new by explaining it in terms of something familiar. For example, if I say that lightning does not strike twice in the same place because electricity flows away from rather than into a location, I have used a metaphorical explanation; i.e., I have transferred what happens with lightning into what happens with electricity so as to be able to make a new statement about one type of phenomenon (lightning) based on another type of phenomenon (electricity).
So, thinking of metaphors as explanations that connect things that normally have nothing to do with each other allows us to see how powerful they are. The more connections we can make between different types of information, the better we understand it all together. This is why scientists love using metaphors to explain their research findings or ideas in public presentations or articles.