Dunbar's "We Wear the Mask"
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This paper presents three interpretations of Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem "We Wear the Mask" and focuses on the third interpretation that the poet is advocating stoic courage in the face of cultural or circumstantial adversity. The paper points out the undertone of bitterness in the poem, but notes the dominant message that stoic courage is the wise option in the face of racial domination. The paper believes this interpretation is the most appropriate, for it expresses the universal message for which Dunbar generally aimed.
From the Paper:"Paul Lawrence Dunbar's poem "We Wear the Mask" is subject to various analyses. It is most commonly analyzed from the point of view of black America in its state of subjection to white hegemony. But it may also be read from a mainstream or white point of view, in which case it provides a glimpse of what it feels like to be a subject race, and where the subjection is not always overt, but instead takes on subtle and disguised forms. There is however a third reading. Where the poem may be seen as reflecting on the human condition in general, and does not require that a black/white agenda be imposed. From this point of view the poem teaches the importance of Stoicism in the face of cultural or circumstantial adversity."
Sample of Sources Used:
- Dunbar, Paul Laurence. The Paul Laurence Dunbar Reader: A Selection of the Best of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Eds. Martin, Jay and Gossie Harold Hudson. New York: Mead Dodd, 1975.
- Dunbar, Paul Laurence. Selected Poems. Chelmsford, MA: Courier Dover Publications, 1997.
- Haralson, Eric L. and John Hollander. Encyclopedia of American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century. New York: Taylor & Francis, 1998.
Cite this Poem Review:
Dunbar's "We Wear the Mask" (2009, September 24) Retrieved March 29, 2020, from https://www.academon.com/poem-review/dunbar-we-wear-the-mask-116416/
"Dunbar's "We Wear the Mask"" 24 September 2009. Web. 29 March. 2020. <https://www.academon.com/poem-review/dunbar-we-wear-the-mask-116416/>