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We Wear the Mask

We Wear the Mask

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

We Wear the Mask Analysis

Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Form and Meter

We know the names, and we kind of know what they mean. But here's our chance to delve into the nitty-gritty of the rondeau form and iambic tetrameter. We know you're on pins and needles right about...

Speaker

Our speaker is relatively cool and understated, considering the subject matter he's talking about. (And we're just assuming it's a "he" here, since we have no evidence to the contrary.) He's not ge...

Setting

It's hard to say we're in a "place" per se. If we are in a place, it's a universal sort of space that's working with some common archetypical ideas associated with masks, deception, worldly respons...

Sound Check

Since "We Wear the Mask" is a rondeau, we can assume that we'll have a few more literary devices circulating in this already highly formulaic poem. And since this sort of poem is supposed to be lyr...

What's Up With the Title?

Since the title is also the poem's refrain, we know it's mighty important. It's also pretty common for the title of a rondeau to match its refrain. Either way, there's no mistaking that "we wear th...

Calling Card

There's no need to shout, and Dunbar does an excellent job of proving that sometimes it's better to stay cool than get angry. In fact, his objective perspective is one of his most notable qualities...

Tough-o-Meter

Although the form is fancy, Dunbar's language is pretty straightforward. Sure we may have to have a dictionary handy for one or two words (we're looking at you, "guile"), but aside from that, the s...

Trivia

Even Frederick Douglass thought Dunbar was "the most promising young colored man in America." Now that's a compliment. (Source.)This poem is open to a whole mess of interpretation. Check out all th...

Steaminess Rating

There isn't any sex or sexual innuendos here. The poem is about pain, suffering, and hypocrisy, so we're keeping things mighty serious and not in the least bit sexy.

Allusions

Jesus Christ (10-11)
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