Play by Austin

Topics: Family, Piano, August Wilson Pages: 31 (10410 words) Published: March 26, 2013
The piano lessonby august Wilson is an amazing and reviting work of classic literature The Piano Lesson is a 1990 play by American playwright August Wilson. The Piano Lesson is the fourth play in Wilson's The Pittsburgh Cycle. Wilson began writing this play by playing with the various answers regarding the possibility of "acquir[ing] a sense of self-worth by denying one's past".[1] The Piano Lessonreceived the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. A Romare Bearden painting entitled The Piano Lesson inspired Wilson to write a play featuring a strong female character to confront African-American history, paralleling Troy in earlier Fences.[1] However, on finishing his play, Wilson found the ending to stray from the empowered female character as well as from the question regarding self-worth. What The Piano Lesson finally seems to ask is: "What do you do with your legacy, and how do you best put it to use?"[2] Set in 1936 Pittsburgh during the aftermath of the Great Depression, The Piano Lesson follows the lives of the Charles family in the Doaker Charles household and an heirloom, the infamous piano. The play focuses on the arguments between a brother and a sister who have different ideas on what to do with the piano they own. The brother, Boy Willie, is a sharecropper who wants to sell the piano to buy the land (Sutter's land) that his ancestors had toiled on as slaves while the sister, "Ain’t nobody said nothing about who's right and who's wrong. I was just telling the man about the piano. I was telling him why we say Berniece ain’t gonna sell it."[3] Doaker is also one of the only characters that truly understand Berniece's desire to not sell the piano so that the legacy of their family may remain. He may maintain a neutral view of whether the piano should be kept or sold, but he does prevent Boy Willie from taking the piano and bolting without Berniece's knowledge

The Symbolism of the Piano in The Piano 

      The piano has been inextricably linked with the roles and expectations of women in British society since its advent in the mid 1700s to the late 1800s when rising standards of living made it more accessible to middle class society. Pianos were regarded as "secure icons of social distinction" 1 and a wife was viewed similarly as a possession of "privatization, success and respectability."2 Pianos were instrumental in both reinforcing gender roles and as delineators of class distinction thus perpetuating the class system. 3 


While concentrating primarily on Ada, this essay will discuss the symbolism of the piano in The Piano expressed through the relationship with each of  the four main characters of the film. I will also comment on the piano as a colonial representation of conquest. 


In one of the earliest scenes in The Piano, Ada waits with her young daughter for the arrival of her new husband and a party of Maori workers who will carry the their baggage to the house. On the empty beach in a new land, and alone w...

..., Suzy "I clipped your wing, that's all": auto-erotism and the female spectator, p.202 

12 "And the wind said 'remember how we used to play?' "Then the wind took her hand and said 'come with me.' "But she refused." This story suggests a change from a compliant Flora to an independent, free-thinking Flora whose choice is her own. 

13 Edmond Abat quoted in Reading Readings 

14 The piano was not previously at his house so it cannot really be termed a return.  Baines' comment "I'm giving it back" refers more to possession than place ( Overview of the Play:
Set in Pittsburg during 1936, The Piano Lesson centers on the conflicting wills of a brother and sister (Boy Willie and Berniece) as they vie for possession of their family's most important heirloom, the piano. Boy Willie wants to sell the piano. With the...
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