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.


Paul Laurence Dunbar-Stern

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Born: June 27 1872

Died: February  9 1906

Paul Laurence Dunbar was the first African American poet to gain nation success.  He was born in Dayton Ohio in 1872. He lived a very short life he became one of the great African American poets known today.  Before his death in 1906 he had written several essays,poems,and novels. He grew up in a very poor family. His parents were Matilda Dunbar and Joshua Dunbar both natives of Kentucky.