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.
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers


Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series


Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?


Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.


Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments