Comparisons and Contrasts of Phillis Wheatley and Paul Laurence Dunbar
The purpose of this essay is to clearly acknowledge similarities as well as differences amongst two great writers: Phyllis Wheatley and Paul L. Dunbar. Wheatley and Dunbar were two brilliant African American writers born of two different centuries. Both began writing at an early age and were seen as black child prodigies of their times.
The points of comparison these two writers share are that they were both iconic poets of their day and that they wrote in what is referred to as “black dialect.” The differences between them are their cultural and educational backgrounds.
There are several points of comparison between the two writers. First, both wrote collections of poetry. Wheatley is considered the mother of the African-American literary tradition. She became the first African American to publish a book and the second woman in the United States to publish a collection of poetry. Her writing abilities sent a wave of shock through the white Americans of her day and many found it unbelievable that an African woman was capable of creative thought.
Dunbar was a brilliant and dazzling poet whom became very popular amongst the whites and blacks in America. He wrote his first poem at the age of six and was the first African-American poet to gain national stature and recognition by white America. In 1892 his first collection of poetry, Oak and Ivey, was published but in 1895 he inherited national fame with his second book entitled, Majors and Minors, and soon after gained international fame.
The second point of comparison is that both Wheatley and Dunbar wrote in black dialect. Wheatley often wrote her poems to celebrate the life and death of friends, prominent contemporaries and important events. She wrote in a style and reference that reflected her African heritage. Her style often focused on moral and religious subjects.
Dunbar wrote in black dialect also, although it wasn’t his...