Paul Laurence Dunbar: The Best Dialect Poet In Modernism

1189 words - 5 pages

Frederick Douglass once said that Paul Laurence Dunbar is “the most promising young colored man in America” (Paul Poets.org). This goes well with Dunbar since he eventually turned out to be one of the best dialect poets in his time period. Paul Dunbar (1872-1906) was part of the modernism movement that wanted to create something new and get rid of the old literature. They used more free verse poetry and stream of consciousness writing. The time period lasted from 1890 to the 1940s (PBS np). The parents of Paul Dunbar were slaves before and after he was born and then separated shortly after his birth and was financially unable to attend college which lead him to befriend Frederick Douglass to ...view middle of the document...

This was one of the main reasons Dunbar was an excellent dialect poet of the modernism time period.
Critical works are supposed to help people learn more about a piece of literature that is closely analyzed. The literary criticism “We Wear the Mask” by William Carrol goes over the poem written by Dunbar called “We Wear the Mask”. The author thought Dunbar had a good reputation for being a dialect poet and he could justify this reputation. He wrote very many poems in dialect but his poems in plantation dialect were the most popular. Many people missed the main message of his dialect poems and focused more on how something was said rather than what is really being said. Since his readers did this he wrote most of his poems in Standard English. The diction and style employed in “We Wear the Mask” never strays from serious to solemn. The readers of his poetry are constantly reminded to look beyond the surface if they want to get the truth and not be satisfied with stereotypes. The author’s argument is supportive because Dunbar was born in a country where African Americans were not given much respect or merit from other people. Dunbar went through many tough times in his life and worked hard to get where he wanted to go. He fought for others more than himself. “Most readers and listeners tended to miss the serious messages in the dialect pieces, concentrating more on how things were said than on what was actually being said”(Carrol np).The author supports the fact that Dunbar was one of the best dialect poets in the 1900’s and Dunbar had many experiences to write about. “He learned the value of smiling politely and not doing or saying anything that might displease people who could make his life even more miserable than it already was” (Carrol np). This helps support the opinion because Dunbar would do anything to become a better writer and person no matter if it helped him only or if it was for the sake of others. “The poet himself had to battle against stereotypes in his life as a professional writer as well as in living as a black man in a country that did not accord much merit to black people” (Carrol np). The author supports the point by reiterating that Dunbar had to go through stereotypes just like the other African Americans and had to overcome them to get to where he wanted to go. Dunbar overcame all of the obstacles of his life to fight...

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