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

Essay by sopioHigh School, 12th gradeA+, June 2007

download word file, 3 pages 5.0

Poetry EssayHuman history is characterized by conflict. Conflict can be manifested as war, as conflict to find food, or as personal conflict to find one’s identity. Although human life is marked by conflict, it does not define us. What defines us as humans is our unique ability to handle conflict – what is known as the human condition. The emotions that are experienced during conflict can be manifested as anger. However, that is not 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 “Aftermath” by Siegfried Sassoon, are two poems that utilize many stylistic and poetic devices to express certain emotions and personal struggles that are faced by humanity.

Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem, “We Wear the Mask”, articulates the emotions and personal struggles faced daily by many in relation to the need to don a ‘mask’ or hide behind a façade of fake emotions in order to hide how we truly feel. This poem is very powerful in its use of symbolism of the mask and the imagery used to describe it to represent the act or persona that people adopt in an attempt to ‘mask’ their true emotions. Although Dunbar initially wrote this poem to express his sentiment regarding the struggles that African Americans endured and the integrity that they possessed in order to face the torment, this poem can be seen as universal for all people. Everyone at one time or another is forced to hide their true...