We Wear the Mask

James Stern

Ms. Nelson

English 3rd Period

February 14th

“We Wear The Mask”

 In the poem “We Wear The Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar the poet uses personification, onomatopoeia, and an extended metaphor to show thats he (Paul laurence Dunbar) believes that the world is very unaware of all bad things happening in it.

Initially the poet uses the personification “We wear the mask that grins and lies/ it hides our cheeks and shades our eyes.”  This shows that there are secretive and dishonest people in the world. It shows this because if you look at “The mask that grins and lies,” you can tell that “we” is supposed to be the secretive dishonest people and you can tell that they are secretive by reading “It shades our cheeks and hides our eyes.” It shows that there are dishonest people by using the two verbs, grins, and lies. Most of the time I would associate grinning with lying if they are in the same sentence. So from this you can conclude that Paul Laurence Dunbar believes that there are secretive, and dishonest people in the world.

The poet then uses yet another personification: “Why should the world be overwise/in counting all our tears and sighs?” This shows that the world is unaware of these bad people and the pain they cause. I know this because when I saw the word “overwise” I could immediately tell that this must mean that the world doesn’t know the bad stuff that goes on, only the good stuff. From this I could conlclude that this line means that world is very unaware of all this pain, secrecy, and dishonesty that goes on.

Paul Laurence Dunbar then says, “But let the world dream otherwise/We wear the mask!” This is another personification that says or re-states the point of how unaware the world is but it is also saying there is no point in arguing this point to the world, just let it think that it (the world) is a great wonderful place. I believe this because when it says “Let the world beleive otherwise.” I got a sense that he (the poet) was saying that you should just the world believe what it wants to. So basically what really anyone can conclude from this is Paul Laurence Dunbar is saying let the world believe what it wants.

The theme of this poem is there are secretive, and dishonest people in the world that it (the world) is not aware of but there is no point of trying to convince it of these things. This is an important theme to most people because it is important to be aware of what is happening around you.


We wear the mask-O’Donnell

Poppi O’Donnell
Ms. Nelson
English 3rd Period
February 28, 2012

We wear the mask

In this world we are limited to what we are able to do, for example: living forever and or buying everything in the world because those things are not real and naive which is why people usually don’t really think they can do that! There are other more realistic examples though: like when you see a person always wearing one piece of clothing or similar clothing you could say that person is homeless or if that clothing is similar like booty shorts and half tops you say that person is a hoar! Most people not want to do whatever in fear of being judged by others. What you do, how you look, and feel makes it easy to pass judgment. It’s a cruel part of life that no one really likes, we fear judgment, of not being accepted by others but maybe there could be a solution…maybe we can just put on a mask. In the poem “We wear the mask “by Paul Laurence Dunbar, the poet uses imagery, hyperboles and metaphors to create the theme that judgment can cause people “us” to hide or be fake.

To begin, Dunbar uses imagery to create a suspicious and creepy mood in the poem. In the first stanza, the poem reads “we wear the mask that grins and lies/ it hide our cheeks and shades ours eyes” the lines are both examples of imagery. The secondary imagery “it hides our cheeks and shades our eyes” gives you the picture of a person wearing a mask without really saying it. The tone here is mysterious, like a villain wearing his mask hiding more than just his face… feelings possibly or something else not just the identity of himself. The main imagery in the firsts line says “we wear the masks that grins and lies” it suggests that feelings are involved and like mentioned before that those feelings are hidden.

Secondly, Dunbar uses a hyperbole to make the poem about torture and indecision. The following lines have a hyperbole “this debt we pay to human guile; with torn and bleeding hearts we smile, and mouth with myriad subtleties” Dunbar  uses this extreme exaggeration  to show how ruined this person is or could be but how on the outside he/she may look perfectly happy. If this person were really wearing a mask they would not be ruined because when you think mask what usually comes to mind is superhero or villain or masquerade! No debt, No heartbreak, No subtleness and that there proves that this is clearly a hyperbole and exaggeration of the persons feelings behind the mask. The person behind the mask isn’t really happy but sad or aggrieved “and mouth with myriad subtleties” it makes the tone obvious the suspicion there is exact and now you wonder what indications he/she might be showing if cannot see his face. This figurative language not only shows the theme of judgment but shows its impact.

Lastly, I will conclude this essay by using two metaphoric stanzas from the poem! Dunbar uses a metaphor to prove my point being about feelings and not just hiding or being fake! I think the fear of judgment is why people are not always who they appear to be, why they are cowards and are afraid to be themselves, like I said before with the villain he puts on his mask to hide more … more being his true feelings, possibly fear or resentment. The third stanza describes how judgment and criticism can lead up to these feelings with negative turnouts like self hate or being overly self conscious which may cause you to hurt yourself or commit suicide! In that case pretending would seem the right way to go and even if you feel differently why make yourself an open book. “Why should the world be over wise in counting tears and sighs?  Nay let them only see us while we wear the mask” The mood here is in perspective with what the message is, we should not let others make us suffer and that if we do judge that we may need to know the person first. The second line “We smile, but o’ great Christ, our cries to thee from tortured souls arise. We sing but o’, Clay is vile beneath our feet and long the world dream otherwise we wear the mask.” The mood here is different than before it is more urgent like the author is trying to say that we may do things to make you judge us but that isn’t who we are …that we can look happy but feel terrible. A mask can hide your identity, it can make you seem different to others and in the end I guess we all can put on a pretty good mask!

In conclusion, through figurative language, mood and rhythm and rhyme Dunbar makes a sort of mysterious, suspicious and surprisingly urgent poem. Reading this poem you will have to carefully analyze to get the theme of judgment using the mask to show the fear of being judged or criticized or rejected because of who you are. Let us all just put on a mask!!!

dreams essay maldonado!

Carlos Maldonado
Ms. Nelson period 3       Response to “dreams” by Langston Hughes.
      In the poem “dreams” by Langston Hughes, the poet uses metaphors to create a theme that shows you to never give up on your dreams.He shows this by quotes, which I will demonstrate throughout this essay.
    One way he shows this, is by the quote in the third line first stanza. “Life is a broken winged bird,“ it reads. Using a metaphor to  compare a dream and a broken winged bird to describe how a forgotten dream is as worthless a broken winged bird. What Langston is trying to tell us is to never give up on our dreams, they  are your wings to get to our destiny.
    Next he explains that we need to hang on to our dreams. “Hold fast to your dreams” it says. The poet is saying don’t let your dreams surpass you, hang on to them. The message here is Don’t let your dreams go! Never forget about them and continue to try your best to accomplish them. Which brings me to my next point.
    Lastly the end of the of the poem explains why we need to hold on to our dreams. “For when dreams go/Life is a barren field/Frozen with snow,” it reads. Using a metaphor to explain broken dreams to a barren field of snow to show the negativity of a dream, that has forgotten, or not accomplished.  The final message is once you give up on your dream, life is meaningless, there is no longer anything that keeps you motivated to continue on your journey, now that there longer any hope.
   I’d like to conclude this essay revealing  the theme of this poem, which is never give on your dreams. Throughout this poem it explain why we need to hold on to dreams and what happends when we don’t. Which is why we need to continue to continue to live on our dreams. I found the theme by understanding the metaphors that Langston used in the poem to explain his message. I really liked this poem and hope you enjoy it as well.

I know why the caged bird sings-Octavio Perez

In the poem I know why the caged bird sings it talks about a African America female that been assaulted in her years of growing up.By the forces of nature. When she was in the tripartite of a male prejudice. That the white illogical hate, and black having the lack of power to things. How Maya Angelou faced life in the 1950’s and the 1960’s as well in her childhood.She is talking about how she couldn’t go to places.


Sabby Sheemar
Ms. Nelson
English 3 Period
February 13, 2012


Have you ever had a dream in the past that you have now given up on? Having a dream is the most important part of being alive. Without dreams, there is no point in life. Langston Hughes uses idioms, personifications, and metaphors to create the theme that is to never give up on your dreams in “Dreams”.
To begin, Langston Hughes uses idioms to explain the theme to the reader the theme of the poem. “Hold past to dreams.” The author says here to keep believing in your dreams. The author uses idioms to tell the reader to never give up on your dreams.
Secondly, Langston Hughes uses personifications to show the reader the theme. “For if dreams die…” The author here says that dreams can get ruined. The author uses personifications to ask the reader, what would you do if you gave up on your dreams?
Finally, Langston Hughes uses metaphors to show the theme. “Life is a broken-winged bird/ That cannot fly”. The author says here that life is pointless without dreams. The author uses metaphors to explain to the reader that there is no use of being alive if you have nothing to live for.
In conclusion, Hughes uses idioms, personifications, and metaphors to explain to the reader that giving up on dreams is wrong. Has giving up on your dreams given you a good life. If not, then you have a decision to make. Are you going to keep your life as it is right now, or follow your dreams and become who you always wanted to be? The decision is for you to make and the world to find out.