This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Examine How The Theme Of The Past Is Portrayed In 'beloved' And 'the Complete Poems Of Paul Laurence Dunbar'. Show A Detailed, Critical Understand

2420 words - 10 pages

The theme of the past is a key aspect of 'Beloved' and the 'Selected Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar' as the narrators, in both texts, have a nostalgic perception of the many years that have passed, whether the memories are pleasant or grim they are reflected upon with – at the very least – a hint of admiration alongside a deep longing to return to the past. Similarly, in Arthur Miller's 'Death of a Salesman', the tragic hero, Willy Loman, is also constantly drifting back into the past to when his sons were ambitious young men and he was a successful businessman. 'Beloved' was set after the American Civil War in 1873, where many black people were heavily mistreated and suffered long and ...view middle of the document...

The suppression of the past is easily perceptible in Toni Morrison's 'Beloved' as each character reluctantly looks back at memories of emotional and physical hardship. Sethe's way of looking to the future was by 'keeping the past at bay' portraying that as long as she did not allow the memories - of attempting to put her children somewhere 'they'd be safe', or how Halle was secretly watching as Schoolteacher's Nephews 'took her milk' – to come back, she could move on and continue with another day. Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem ‘Sympathy’ helps the reader to understand that long after their freedom, Black Americans felt condemned to suppress their emotional and physical pain that ‘still throbs in the old, old scars’ – be it metaphorical or literal, the slaves are always suffering from the crude events of the past that ‘pulse again with a keener sting’. The use of repetition is to emphasise that the scars have been left there for a great period of time and that despite the many years that passed, the scars, as well as the memories of harsh slavery life, are still fresh. The use of ‘pulse’ gives the quote two meanings; one of which is that the memory is still alive, as the pulsing of a beating heart is widely used to connote life. The other imagery the quote conveys is a more literal feeling as when a wound is first inflicted by a whip, it begins to throb with pain; when revisiting the past events, the memory of the pain is reawakened and the scars seem to throb again. The also narrator used this metaphor to convey the mental scarring slaves had endured from the verbal and psychological abuse alongside being whipped and branded.
Like the numerous scars on Sethe’s back that look like a ‘chokecherry tree’, the memories will always remain and in most cases seem more painful every time they are revisited. Likewise, Paul D confined his emotions and memories of his sufferings into the 'tobacco tin lodged in his chest' which was so tightly 'rusted' shut that nothing 'could pry it open'. Morrison uses this metaphor to describe what Paul D's 'red heart' decayed into; an old rusty tobacco tin is not of interest to anyone and the fact that it was ‘lodged’ into place conveys that as the heart was failing, anything else that was lying around was carelessly shoved in its place. This portrays how no one, including himself, cared about what he was holding onto – whether he was emotionally scarred or not, was of nobody's concern – as the expectation of the time was to just deal with what you had to endure and get on with life with what you had, or decline into madness like Halle, Aunt Phyllis, and Jackson Till; who all turned mad and underwent, according to a critic, ‘A complete loss of self’. The tobacco tin could also play a part in a metaphor; like burning the trapped contents of the rusty box, Paul D smoulders the memories he has until they are hazy like the smoke from the tobacco – the intention is to make the harsh memories less painful to reflect upon or...

Find Another Essay On Examine how the theme of the past is portrayed in 'Beloved' and 'The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar'. Show a detailed, critical understand

Personification and Metaphor in two of Paul Dunbar´s Poems

1230 words - 5 pages put effort into a friendship with someone who cannot handle the bad moments. The overall implication in “ After the Quarrel” is that some relationships are toxic and that it is more beneficial to make room for more positive relationships in our life. Works Cited Dunbar, Laurence Paul. “ A Confidence”. The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar. New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company. 1922 Print. Dunbar, Laurence Paul. “ After the Quarrel

Comparisons and Contrasts of Phillis Wheatley and Paul Laurence Dunbar

672 words - 3 pages 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

Contrast and comparisons of "Aftermath" by Seigfried Sassoon and "We wear the Mask" by Paul Laurence Dunbar

616 words - 2 pages the only way. The way people handle conflict can also be represented by a person’s integrity, perseverance and most importantly, hope for the future. One of the best outlets for expressing human emotions is through poetry. Poems often use symbolism, irony, and other stylistic devices to assist in representing the human condition with its many facets of emotion. The poems, “We Wear the Mask”, by Paul Laurence Dunbar, and “

Oppression between Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Dunbar-Nelson

776 words - 4 pages Poetry is a way of expressing feelings and thoughts on paper. Paul Laurence Dunbar and his former wife, Alice Dunbar-Nelson both wrote poetry in order to express their thoughts and feelings toward different subjects. This essay presents a discussion of the comparisons and contrasts of the poems “I sit and sew” and “We wear the mask”. “We wear the mask” was written by Paul Laurence Dunbar and in many ways, it sheds some light of what it is like

Analysis of "Sympathy",written by Paul Laurence Dunbar

814 words - 3 pages Paul Laurence Dunbar was an African American poet of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who lived through slavery, racism and segregation. So this poem is considered to be an extended metaphor where through out the entire poem Dunbar is comparing himself and all African Americans at that time with a caged bird that does not have the freedom to enjoy the nature and does not have the freedom to fly like all other birds meaning white people at

Sympathy by Paul Laurence Dunbar

771 words - 3 pages At a point in time in the life of every person, a feeling of being trapped or stuck occurs. The poem “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar represents the speaker’s vast knowledge of the feeling of being enclosed in a place where they are tremendously uncomfortable. The speaker explains the actions of a bird trapped in a small cage and explains the motives behind the actions. The speaker reveals that the song the caged bird sings is not a melody

What connections have you found between the ways in which Duffy and Pugh write about social problems? In your response, you must include detailed critical discussion of at least two of Duffy’s poems.

2115 words - 8 pages Amy Asher AS Poetry Mrs LawrenceWhat connections have you found between the ways in which Duffy and Pugh write about social problems? In your response, you must include detailed critical discussion of at least two of Duffy's poems.Education for Leisure, ridicules the government and education. Writing during the 1980's employment rates were exceedingly high and Duffy talks of society in a critical way. Another poem by Duffy, Making Money, is a

Detailed Study of Passage in Cry, the Beloved Country

1044 words - 4 pages Detailed Study #2 Cry, the Beloved Country In this passage, the author details the reactions of parents who receive letters about and from their son who is soon to be executed. This extract contains three sections, all of about the same length. The first paragraph in the excerpt contains only one character, Stephen Kumalo, who has opened one of four letters which he has received and grieves over the news that his son will be hanged. He

The Language of the Black Condition and All Conditions: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask”

1112 words - 4 pages Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem, “We Wear The Mask” cleverly talks of the black condition in a language so universal that it could apply to any race of people that tries to hide their emotions from the world in order to survive. Dunbar argues for the reality of the black man’s plight in America, the black man's struggle for equality in the world, and the struggle for peace within. These are circumstances of the poet’s life that influenced his

The Importance of the Past in Toni Morrison's Beloved

2282 words - 9 pages the book where Sethe and Paul D are lying in bed together thinking about how much they do not like one another. However, it has nothing to do with the fact that they hate each other. They simply are reminders to each other of the past that they despise. The point in the novel when their past really comes back to haunt them is when Beloved shows up in the front yard of 124. There are many instances to show that Beloved is the ghost of Sethe's

Paul Laurence Dunbar's "We Wear the Mask" and His Facade of Opinions

886 words - 4 pages concealing and elusive, in many ways. This particular piece of work is unequaled, not only to the literary world, but the author himself. Paul Laurence Dunbar's other poems are written in a specific dialect, brought on by his African-American descent. One example comes from an earlier poem "When Dey 'Listed Colored Soldiers." The title alone is a good example but the rest of the poem continues "DEY was talkin' in de cabin, dey was

Similar Essays

The Poet By Paul Laurence Dunbar

657 words - 3 pages The Poet by Paul Laurence Dunbar Before we pass on from this world it would be nice if we had left our mark, given our contribution, made our claim in the history of human civilization. Wouldn't it be wonderful to achieve such a goal? Wouldn't it be horrible to have attained that level of recognition and yet be recognized for things you deemed inferior? In the poem "The Poet", Paul Laurence Dunbar expresses his remorse at having

Paul Laurence Dunbar: The Best Dialect Poet In Modernism

1189 words - 5 pages over the poem written by Dunbar called “We Wear the Mask”. The author thought Dunbar had a good reputation for being a dialect poet and he could justify this reputation. He wrote very many poems in dialect but his poems in plantation dialect were the most popular. Many people missed the main message of his dialect poems and focused more on how something was said rather than what is really being said. Since his readers did this he wrote most of

Sympathy, By Paul Laurence Dunbar: A Reflection Of The African American's Struggle For Freedom

968 words - 4 pages written by Paul Laurence Dunbar in 1899, right at the end of the Nineteenth Century. It is a poem about the caged bird who wants to be free and tries, tries and tries again to break out of its cage. Each time, it is unable to break free and instead only injures itself, adding to injuries left over from past escapes. Dunbar depicts the bird's desperate and unsuccessful struggle for freedom and images of nature, that beckon outside. The first

?An Interpretation Of Paul Laurence Dunbar?S Poem Sympathy And We Wear The Mask?

1186 words - 5 pages the faint perfume from its chalice steals- I know what the caged bird feels! The first stanza is representative of the symbolic speech in which Paul Laurence Dunbar uses to describe the condition of African Americans. The first stanza also states how the conditions of African Americans are similar to that of a cage bird. The symbolism in the first stanza is that of nature. Dunbar speaks of the chalice, river, and grass which are parts of nature