Paraphrase the following lines from Dunbar's "We Wear the Mask.""With torn and bleeding hearts we smile, / And mouth with myriad subtleties."

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Paul Dunbar is commenting, as so many authors have done, on the ability of humans to portray a face that is false.  The title "We Wear the Mask" refers to the public mask that we put on, pretending to be something or to feel something that we don't.  So, in times of pain, when we have "torn and bleeding hearts" we will smile if society calls for it.  A modern example might be at work - a day when everything personally is going bad for you, but you have to smile at work to get your job done.

The second line refers to what we say - "mouth with myriad subtleties."  We say (mouth) things that have multiple meanings, and often say things that aren't exactly true.  A very simple example of this is when someone says "how are you?"  A typical response is "fine."  Physically, the responder might be fine, but emotionally, he might be a mess.  His response is both the truth and a lie.  And this is just a simple response - often, there are many (myriad) meanings to what we say to people that they aren't even supposed to understand.