Figurative Devices: Comparing "We Wear The Mask" And "Theme For English B"

1436 words - 6 pages

Paul Laurence Dunbar and Langston Hughes were considered to be early black poets during the twentieth century around the period of civil right movement. “We wear the mask” and “Theme for English B” were written in 1895 and 1951 respectively. Even there is approximately 50 years gap between these two poems, the theme that these two poems address is somewhat similar. Even though Dunbar uses symbols as figurative devices while Hughes uses Irony, they both have the same goal, which is to point out the racial issues within American society.
Paul Laurence Dunbar was one of the first black poets in his time to confront the hypocrisy he saw around him. “We wear the mask” was one of his outstanding works that addressed racial injustices in American society. This poem was all about the assertion that “we wear the masks” to hide their true feeling. Yet, he goes on to emphasize that the ruthlessness of suffering and pain that these masks try to cover up because they had to keep all the pains by themselves without expressing. According to William Carroll, “The poem closes with a repetition of a sentiment stated earlier: ‘But let the world dream otherwise, / we wear the mask!’ The people show a dogged determination to keep the true nature of their sufferings to themselves and to present to others an outward show of happiness and lack of care. Surely, such insistence on deception must be motivated by powerful feelings resulting from terrifying experiences. Such were the experiences of many people enslaved in the United States before the birth of this poet” (1-2). Because of their racial appearance and experience in injustice society, they have to hide their feeling.
Similarly, Langston Hughes was an American poet whose African-American themes made him a primary contributor to the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. The Harlem Renaissance (c. 1918–1935) was a blossoming of African American creative arts associated with the larger New Negro movement, a multifaceted phenomenon that helped set the directions African American writers and artists would pursue throughout the twentieth century. He claimed that Paul Laurence Dunbar as his primary influential poet; therefore, most of his poem focused on the same theme, racial issues, as Dunbar. “Theme for English B” is about a page of writing that character who is a black student dominated by white students and professor, had to write for his professor. He also tells the reader about his early life in Harlem. He is a regular twenty-two years old guy, who likes to do what normal twenty-two year-olds do. The poem goes on with a sense of irony that states: “Will my paper be colored that I write?” (Hughes, 405). In the period of racial discrimination, he wonders how a page of writing could be meaningful for both black student and white professor. The poem points out how racial appearance affects one’s identity in the society.
Dunbar mainly uses symbols as figurative devices in “We wear the Mask”. In the poem, he uses “We”...

Find Another Essay On Figurative Devices: Comparing "We Wear the Mask" and "Theme for English B"

Theme For English B Essay

670 words - 3 pages "Expressing Yourself" The poem "Theme for English B" by Langston Hughes is a well-written piece of literature dealing with race. The story is about a young African-American man who tries to live his life in a white society. The character discusses how his life in a predominately black area growing up dramatically changes when he goes to college with all whites. The character is assigned a paper for his English class, which he takes very

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

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

886 words - 4 pages Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem "We Wear The Mask" is about his views on racism and the struggle for equality for the African-Americans. What is so beautifully unique is how he wrote it in an artful, refined dissimulation of his true self. He is deliberately misleading and often indirect as if to hide beneath his words, coming across as oblique and delicate at the same time. This further stresses the idea of the mask, being

?An Interpretation of Paul Laurence Dunbar?s Poem Sympathy and We Wear the Mask?

1186 words - 5 pages should the majority of people have such a negative affect on people and how the minorities respond to societal norms. These societal norms that are spoken of a rules or unspoken laws that are set up to benefit and serve the majority or those that are in charge. In this case      Similar to Sympathy the third stanza of We Wear the Mask is also like a prayer. The third stanza is a plea for release of control over African

Literary criticism and anlysis of "Richard Cory," "I'm nobody! Who are you?," and "We wear the mask."

1565 words - 6 pages bread..." the extent of their jealousy runs far. However, "We wear the mask" by Dunbar, in it's own way, also deals with the same principles of appearance versus reality as did "Richard Cory.""We wear the mask" allows us to delve into the psyche of humanity and explore its apparent need to hide behind a mask. In "We wear the mask," the title alone gives us the theme for the entire poem. "We wear the mask that grins and lies, it hides our cheeks and

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 “

"Theme For English B" By Langston Hughes

626 words - 3 pages We as humans are born a different race, but we are still the same. In Langston Hughes "Theme for English B" his diction created an atmospherical representation of the world that he lived in and the world where we wanted and hoped to live. The speaker in the poem explains that although he is black and the instructor is white they are still the same."I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you: hear you, hear me-we two-you, me talk on this page

Critical Analysis of Theme for English B

655 words - 3 pages When I first read Langston Hughes' poem "Theme for English B", I did not particularly like it. But after reading it a second time and discussing it in class, I came to appreciate the poem on several levels. The way Hughes describes the setting of Harlem/New York is brief, but evocative. He also gives us insight into the thoughts and emotions of the main character, the young "colored" student, and ends the piece with several thought

Putting on a Happy Face in We Wear the Mask by Paul Lawrence Dunbar

833 words - 4 pages meaning is their smile does not come from within let them believe for the sake of maintaining the one sided goodly ways. So the author in the end writes we shout outward from inside not out “We Wear the Mask!” Paul Laurence Dunbar shares his oppression in the world and vagueness one must reflect of this injustice. This repulsive world he lives in and the smile of obscurity to hide his true feeling to the world around him from the evils in the

Analysis of Theme for English B by Langston Hughes

1884 words - 8 pages challenged ignorance by evoking the teacher to take a look at his life. "Theme for English B" is separated into five stanzas. Each stanza contributes to the main themes of the poem, which I believe are that the color of the skin does not ultimately determine the character someone eventually becomes. We're influenced by our surroundings, which include what we hear, see, and learn. Also, just because people are different races, it doesn't mean that

Internal, Not External: An Analysis of “Theme for English B”

1127 words - 5 pages “Theme for English B” at surface value is the autobiography of a well-educated, twenty-two year old college student at Columbia University. This autobiography is in response to an assignment given by the student’s professor. The assignment provides a way for the speaker to address his feelings to his classmates about the unjust treatment he receives at school. This young man is African-American and although his references to his race could be

Similar Essays

We Wear The Mask Essay

1368 words - 5 pages life of African Americans, whom pretend to put on a smile when they feel sad internally. This ocassion, according to Dunbar, is the “debt we pay to human guile," meaning that their sadness is related to them deceiving others. Unlike his other poems, with its prevalent use of black dialect, Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask” acts as “an apologia (or justification) for the minstrel quality of some of his dialect poems” (Desmet, Hart and Miller 466). Through

We Wear The Mask Essay

2552 words - 10 pages for. During Dunbar’s older years he attended Dayton’s central high and was the only black students however his scholarly abitlities was what distinguished him from the rest. He was class poet and president of the literary society in school. During this time period he searched through many poets work in order to find his own “voice”. The poem “ We Wear the Mask” was written by Paul Laurence Dunbar. The poem is about the substantial suffering of

"We Wear The Mask" Essay

1277 words - 6 pages Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote “We Wear the Mask” in 1896, which was during a time of civil uneasiness in the United States. Considering the time period and the race of the author it would be easy to assume that this poem is strictly referring to the lives of African Americans during this time, but when looking deeper into the poem it is clear that Dunbar is addressing the entire human race. He uses the metaphor of the mask to represent the façade

Theme For English B Essay

699 words - 3 pages ​In 1951, Langston Hughes wrote “Theme for English B” using the persona of a 22-year old African American who had come to New York City as part of the post-World War II Great Migration.  The set up for the poem is deceptively simple:  the English professor has given the students an autobiographical assignment in jaunty rhyme, “Go home and write/ a page tonight” (2-3).   Everybody has done assignments like this, and from a position of privilege