We Wear The Mask
Start writing a post

We Wear The Mask

Many of us are forced to hide our feelings behind a facade that masks the emotions we struggle with every single day.

We Wear The Mask

In Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “We Wear the Mask,” the narrator explains the terrible ways in which people wear a mask to hide true and sincere thoughts or emotions. By characterizing the masks as fake facades meant to obstruct ones’ judgment of others, the reader is led to self-reflect on their own fidelity. The poem accentuates the struggles of restricting a being’s emotions to the boundaries of a deceitful persona by presenting the mask as a symbol of false identity and furthering the point through strong diction and hyperbole.

Throughout the poem, the mask is like a bright smile draped over a crying soul. The mask represents the common act of concealing true feelings from the potential wrath of “human guile” (3). The negative diction demonstrates the malice and gloom within the overall message of the poem. This creates a dark and gloomy mood that draws attention to the narrator’s discontent with those who “wear the mask,” (1) because doing such causes people more pain and anguish as they fight to keep up the lie.

It becomes apparent that wearing the mask is more of a burden than necessary because it forces “torn and bleeding hearts” (4) to pretend nothing is wrong; to act like they are fine and content with society when they are not. This hyperbole also serves to stress the severity of the pain the narrator, and the people like the narrator honestly feel despite the forced smiles they use to decorate their faces. By giving a morbid depiction of their true feelings the reader can better understand the attitude of the narrator.

The narrator feels a sense of obligation to wear the mask because he does not want to “let them…see” what an excruciating state (8) he is in. He does not want to trouble the world with his personal struggles and frustrations. The final stanza reveals the degree to which the people wearing masks are hurting. They only wear the mask to keep from troubling others and possibly causing problems. They hurt themselves in order to cope and “let the world dream otherwise,” (14) as if the masks were something real and authentic. They wear the mask even though it aches their very souls.

The overall meaning of the poem is established by using a mask to symbolize the trials of those limited by a fake representation of themselves when in the eyes of the world. In many ways, the mask is like a disguise for those who are secretly in pain. The negative diction and hyperbole served the purpose of conveying the author’s message to the reader in an almost depressing matter.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

8 Valentine's Day Gift Ideas For Your Long-Distance Partner

Looking for a gift idea for your long-distance Valentine's date this year? Here are some creative, thoughtful gifts for you!

Photo by Ben Collins on Unsplash

As Valentine's Day approaches, I realized that it's the first Valentine's Day I have had with my boyfriend that we're more than 6,000 miles apart. Despite the distance though, my mind has been reeling over what to get him, as one of my main love languages is gift-giving. So here are some ideas that I've seen that I think would be perfect for any relationship, whether you're together or apart.

Keep Reading... Show less
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't sure how to write this article.

In the past, I've written about the lies we tell ourselves. I've written about how thoughts can be destructive, how they can have power over who we are.

Keep Reading... Show less

Put Down Your Phone And Read These 8 Statistics About Texting And Driving You Wish Didn't Exist

We text all the time, so it's no surprise you may find yourself wanting to pick up your phone even when you're driving.


You're driving to the grocery store when your phone buzzes in your pocket. You instinctively reach to check it, but it can wait until you park. These are eight statistics to read before you text and drive because they'll change how you view your time on the road.

Everyone's made the mistake of looking at their phone while in the driver's seat, but not everyone gets home safely afterward. Learn why it's better to avoid distracted driving so you don't become one of these statistics this year:

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Have An Eating Disorder And I Refuse To Let It Kill Me

Even at my lowest, the number on the scale never seemed low enough... but was it ever worth the risk of losing my life?

Trigger warning: This article discusses topics that may be triggering for some readers.

I looked down at my thumb today. I know haven't been eating enough. I told everyone I would get all my vitamins and calories in. I totally wanted to eat more of the guacamole I bought the other day, but I counted what I had eaten and those numbers seemed a little too high. I decided I didn't need the extra helping, so I went to bed and the guacamole went bad.

Keep Reading... Show less

When pursuing a degree that most deem 'useless' or a 'waste of time' there happens to be a lot of self-doubt and fear, especially with the pending doom of graduation around the corner. I remember when I was about to graduate from college with a Bachelor's in Acting, I was absolutely terrified.

Keep Reading... Show less

TikTok Made Me Buy It: Flawless's Skincare Fridge

I bought and tested one of TikTok's popular products so you don't have to.


I spend a lot of time on TikTok and I never know whether the products I see are worth it or not, especially when I'm looking at the price. For Christmas, my aunt got me a gift card to Ulta. I didn't know what to buy. I have way too many palettes and lipsticks. I have my essentials. What else could I need? Then it hit me that I saw a lot of people these past few months showing off their skincare fridges. So, the second I thought of it I went on the Ulta app and bought it. So, here are my thoughts.

Keep Reading... Show less

37 Cute And Unique Pinterest Board Titles

Let's be real, the hardest part about Pinterest is thinking of a cute title for your board.


I don't know about anyone else but I have recently become re-obsessed with Pinterest. Like, I am spending a stupid amount of time on Pinterest daily now. While I have been binging Pinterest I have found that I love making cute and aesthetic boards but it is SO hard to come up with a name to match it. So, I scoured the internet and my brain for you. Happy pinning!

Keep Reading... Show less

This Is What Type Of Person You Are Based On Your Favorite Cereal

Your cereal preference reveals more than you think.

Photo by Nyana Stoica on Unsplash

Whether you eat cereal for breakfast or a late-night snack, you probably have a favorite. Little did you know that what you prefer says a lot about your personality.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments