Nov 8, 2017 in Literature

Discussion of Literary Works

Introduction

America experienced many watershed moments during its long history. People struggled against difficulties, social inequality and slander. All these themes are depicted in the works of famous American writers.

Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Poem “We Wear the Mask” as a Reflection of the Gilded Age and Reconstruction Period

The Gilded Age and Reconstruction period inaugurated a new era of social development. Despite the abolishment of slavery and expansion of human rights, many African Americans felt themselves as freedmen. They had a low social status and were victimized by the white men (Edwards, 2005).

For that reason, a black-skinned American writer Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote his poem “We Wear the Mask” (1896) where he reflected upon the theme of racism. The verse demonstrates that humiliated African Americans were forced to conceal their pain and anger behind a mask of satisfaction and happiness.     

American Modernism of 1910-1930 and Robert Frost’s Poem “The Road Not Taken”

American modernists declare that people are heroic in the face of a future they cannot control. The main hero of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” (1916) must make a choice between two equal roads (Pritchard, 2000). Having chosen one, he realized that he would like to try the other path. The narrator muses on how different his life could be if he chose the other road. There is no matter what decisions people make, they will always regret the choices they have not made. Thus, the poem describes the tough choices that people make when traveling the road of life.

Arthur Miller’s Play “The Crucible” as a Reflection of Post-World War II Era

A famous play The Crucible (1952) describes the Salem witch trials. Women are accused of witchcraft. They cannot prove their innocence due to the absurdity of the charges (Susan, 2007). The play is an allegory of McCarthyism. In the 1950's, a Wisconsin politician Joseph McCarthy accused thousands of Americans of Communist affiliation for personal motives. Though he did not have visible evidence, he managed to blacklist several artists. Arthur Miller chose the events in Salem to demonstrate that the “witch hunt” exists in the present-day society.

Conclusion

Every historical period has its peculiar features which are reflected in the literature. The poem “We Wear the Mask” expresses the true feelings of African Americans during the prejudice times in the USA. Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” states that people must make difficult decisions in their everyday life.  Arthur Miller’s play develops the theme of senseless accusations. 

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