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We Wear the Mask (1896) We wear the mask that grins and lies, It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes— This debt we pay to human guile; With torn and bleeding hearts we smile, And mouth with myriad subtleties. Why should the world be over-wise, In counting all our tears and sighs? Nay, let them only see us, while We wear the mask. We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries To thee from tortured souls arise. We sing, but oh the clay is vile Beneath our feet, and long the mile; But let the world dream otherwise, We wear the mask!

The essay assignment for this week is to compose an essay of at least 750 words in which you offer your interpretation of a literary element (such as theme, imagery, symbolism, or characterization) in one of the assigned poems. You may choose any poem from our reading list. If you wish, you may base your paper on the analysis you began in this week’s discussion.

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Tips for the Essay

  1. Open your introduction with an engaging opener, such as a question, quote from the poem, or interesting idea. Then, connect to the poem and mention the title and the author. End your introduction with a thesis statement that interprets one literary element of the poem (such as theme, imagery, symbolism, or characterization).
  2. The body paragraphs should support your thesis. Present specific aspects of the poem that help to illustrate your points. Make sure to quote from the poem and analyze specific lines that support your argument. Typically, body paragraphs will contain at least two short quotations each as supporting evidence.
  3. Include a strong concluding paragraph that summarizes your main points and explains the significance of the thesis. Finish this paragraph with a strong and satisfying ending.

APA Reminder

Use APA style for formatting the essay and for source citations. Begin with a title page. Include a running header, and use proper font and spacing. End with a separate references page. Refer to the Week 1 lecture on avoiding plagiarism for an APA essay template and additional resources.

Important Note: Do not do any outside research for this essay. This analysis should be your own insights regarding the poem. If you need help, refer to the sample student paper shared in the lecture on themes, and contact your instructor with questions.