Write a 1500-2000 word essay drawing on important ideas on authenticity and identity, based on the following pieces:

- Paul Laurence Dunbar's "We Wear the Mask"
- Edwin Arlington Robinson's "Richard Cory"
- Judith Minty's "Killing the Bear"
- Tobias Wolff's "Say Yes"

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A central undercurrent in this examination of the theme of the interplay of reality and illusion in several pieces of poetry and literature will be the issue of authenticity. While this may seem pertinent because of the current preoccupation with (apparent) authenticity, particularly in some wings of the country’s political stage, the interest here is far more about the inescapability of authenticity as an issue when considering illusion and reality. A sketch of an argument for why this is so might go like this: If reality and illusion are thought of as two modes of being, rather than with one automatically having priority over the other, then it stands to reason that there is a person either inhabiting one or both of those modes of being and/or mediating between them; authenticity, or the authentic self, can be thought of as the mode of being for that third, mediating locus – authenticity must reside not in ‘reality’ or ‘illusion’ but in the mode of being which mediates and navigates those two ways of living. So, given that general rubric of understanding the critical dimensions of interest here, the main engine...

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