Final Research Essay

1662 words - 7 pages

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, ...view middle of the document...

Dunbar gives the mask human characteristics because the people have allowed the mask to go from being temporarily on their face to permanent. It is ironic that the people wear the mask to conceal their suffering, but it causes them to suffer more.The use of hyperbole to express how serious the mask is and exaggerate it's power is seen in line (4) which states " With torn and bleeding hearts we smile". The hyperbole spotlights how the mask is powerful because it feeds off the peoples insecurities and negative emotions. Dunbar uses metaphors to exaggerate the emotions in the poems. He uses metaphor when the poem says "In counting all our tears and sigh " (7). It is impractical to count tears and sighs, henceforth the poet means that the world is unable to understand blacks' sufferings. Hyperbole and metaphors used in the poem links to how everyone wears a mask once in the while and has the same universal feeling of hopelessness. Dunbar goes on to note that the more you ignore something, it lays dormant and may come back even bigger. In “ We Wear the Mask,” Dunbar exaggerates how changing can be beneficial and harmful because it can be concluded that all of the illusions and subdued emotions are just phony disguises of the painful truths that hide behind them. Thus, people would want to disguise their pain because it makes them vulnerable. Vulneralbility is often concealed and causes one to instinctively want to protect themselves from the ridicule of the public. Changing external appearance can be detrimental because sometimes a sense of shame accompanies them.
The poem “ Temptation” is about a happy religious man who is praising God. He defeats the temptation by the devil and feels “ happy ez a king”. Lately the devil has been tempting him. He notices this when he says “ Mistah Satan’s ineto try
to wuk on me” (12). The man says that because he loves God, God will always protect him. He talks about going to church and how it improves his relationship with God. At the end, even though he loves God, the devil finally gets a hold on him. Because he was overly confident about not sinning, it was easier for him to be tempted by the devil.
Southern blacks have always been viewed as being overzealously religious. In “Temptation,” Paul Dunbar shows through dialect and similes how God gives his followers the strength to reject temptation and the devil. The poem is titled “Temptation” because it implies that the speaker was or still is being tempted by something. He uses similes when the speaker says, “ an I’s happy ez a king” (1). The importance is that the praising God gives the speaker a sense of purpose. This is relevant to a king because a king is portrayed as being in charge, and being content. In transition, Dunbar uses dialect to show that the speaker is living in the South. Dunbar’s use of dialect makes the piece authentic and allows the readers to understand the culture that the speaker is representing, which is deeply religious southern...

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