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We wear the mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar speaks of the hypocrisy that the world

lives by, where we hide our true emotions from everyone else. Everyone lives behind the facade
that all is good and well in their lives so that those around us do not have to share our burdens
and count all our tears and sighs. The does so through the employment of juxtaposition,
repetition, imagery and the motif of emotions.
Language: First person-collective (good job man) is employed throughout the poem, which
possibly means that the poet wants his reader to recognise or realize that she, too, partakes in
this hypocrisy. [ give examples of first person collective - we wear our eyes etc.../focus on the
active verbs wear smile sing ] As this first-person perspective also includes the persona
himself, this alludes to the fact that the persona, like the rest of us, is also guilty of wearing the
mask as seen in this debt we pay, it hides our cheeks and shades our eyes and with torn and
bleeding hearts we smile. This is further emphasized by the use of absolute terms of all and
only in counting all our tears and sighs? and let them only see us, which reinforces the
intensity of human ingenuity which is enhanced as the poem progresses through the growing
strength of the emotive words, from smile in stanza one, to tears and sighs in the second
stanza, to cries and tortured in the third stanza. Furthermore, (i think you need more close
analysis here? instead of just giving all the quotes and at the end saying it shows intensity of
human ingenuity, try and show progression? how it intensifies as the poem progresses)
Language: Diction - words like debt torn bleeding tortured vile
These are some pretty intense diction you can try to close analyze and link back
to your point of human ingenuity being very INTENSE.
Style: The poet uses a constant juxtaposition of happiness and misery throughout the poem to
highlight the extent to which humans live by hypocrisy. hide our cheeks and shades our eyes
underlines how we try to prevent others from seeing blushes on our cheeks, which may be a
result of shame, embarrassment or the like, and conceal who we really are by not allowing
others to see us through our eyes which are the windows to ones soul. This emphasizes how
human identity that is portrayed outwardly may not be genuine, and by extension, the difference
between appearance and reality. Additionally, the juxtaposition of words that connote happiness
and words that connote sorrow such as smile and cries and sing and vile ( more appropriate
for diction) underlines the immense amount of effort people put into ensuring that their true
emotions stay hidden behind an illusion of joy.The poet also makes use of repetition to
underscore this fact. The personification of human guile to whom we pay this debt to elevates
the level of commitment that we take to hide our torn and bleeding under the pretence of
happiness as well as how far we would go to mask what truly lies underneath.. torn and
bleeding encapsulates the magnitude of the pain that many try so hard to cover up, intensifying
the false image of perfect joy that the world strives to upkeep.
Style: Find a better method for this to add on to your style paragraph! Personification maybe?
Form: For a large part of the poem, the rhythm of the lines is steady and has a regular meter,
which, perhaps, could be a parallel of how humans try to act as if their lives are in order, in

control and organised to maintain a completely flawless image of contentment, although the
truth could not be further away from it. (err okay but how does that link to human ingenuity? be
more specific) This aligns well with the first three lines of the third stanza when she writes that
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries To thee from tortured souls arise.We sing, but oh the
clay is vile. The employment of caesura here effectively causes the initially regular meter of the
poem to be disrupted which may suggest that humans can only reveal the true state of their
minds and hearts, which is disordered and in a mess just like the rhythm of the lines here, to a
divine being. (huh???)
This reinforces the extent to which mankind has lost their sense of sincerity, that the only one in
the whole universe that they can reveal themselves wholly and truthfully to is a divine being that
is invisible to the eyes of Man.
Conclusion: We wear the mask is written to invoke sympathy in its readers for all of mankind
and their plight of not being able to project their true selves in front of others and in the process,
bringing even more pain and suffering to themselves by suppressing their emotions and hiding it
all behind the facade of happiness. Arguably,Paul Laurence may be enlightening readers that
everyone in this world wears a mask and is encouraging them to display the genuine versions
of themselves. (any alternative interpretation other than constantly repeating human ingenuity?)