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The Piano Lesson

The Piano Lesson

by August Wilson

The Piano Lesson Analysis

Literary Devices in The Piano Lesson

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The infamous piano at the center of the play's conflict is about as symbolic as it gets. It has meant a lot of things to a lot of different people over the years. Now, sitting in Doaker's living ro...

Setting

The play is set in living room and kitchen of the Charles houses. These specific rooms are important because they allow the family to congregate, share their stories, and have their battles.The sta...

Genre

We call the play a drama because it's well…a play – a piece of literature meant to be performed in front of a live audience. It's a family drama because the story centers around the tri...

Tone

August Wilson's voice is a unique blend of African-American dialect and heightened poetry. So, the tone of The Piano Lesson, as well as his other plays, often manages to be incredibly approachable...

Writing Style

August Wilson's plays are almost always pretty "realistic." They have to do with everyday people in pretty everyday situations. Almost all of Wilson's characters are black and they speak in an Afri...

What's Up With the Title?

No, The Piano Lesson isn't a manual on how to play the piano, but it is about someone with something to learn. By the end of the play, all of its characters appear to have learned a "lesson." "Oh,...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

Gin my cottonSell my seedBuy my baby Everything she need – Skip JamesThis is a totally fitting epigraph for several reasons. First of all, it's from a song by the famous blues musician Skip J...

What's Up With the Ending?

The Piano Lesson's big finish happens when Berniece banishes the ghost of Sutter. Avery, a preacher, tries to exorcise the ghost by calling on the Christian God, but ultimately fails. It takes Bern...

Tough-o-Meter

We think The Piano Lesson is one of August Wilson's most accessible plays. The language is beautifully poetic yet really easy to get into. The play is full of humor, drama, and even a little supern...

Plot Analysis

Boy Willie arrives.Boy Willie and Lymon arrive from Mississippi with a truckload of watermelons. Boy Willie's sister, Berniece, is less than pleased that he's there.Boy Willie and Berniece argue ov...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

The Piano Lesson doesn't seem to fall into any of Booker's basic plots exactly. For the most part, the play is structured like a tragedy. But instead of death and destruction at the end, we have a...

Three Act Plot Analysis

Boy Willie and Lymon arrive from Mississippi with a truck load of watermelons to sell. However, Boy Willie's real goal is to sell the family's historic piano, so that he can buy Sutter's land. His...

Trivia

"Wining Boy Blues" was a song by the famous rag blues piano player Jelly Roll Morton. We're guessing that The Piano Lesson's blues singing, piano playing Wining Boy is named after this song.The TV...

Steaminess Rating

There aren't many steamy scenes in The Piano Lesson. Boy Willie and Grace, a girl he meets in bar, make out in the living room a bit, but Berniece kicks them out before things go too far. If it was...

Allusions

Humpty Dumpty (2.1.44)Old Ship of Zion (2.2.49)Parchman Farm (1.1.86, and throughout)Irene Kaufman Settlement House (1.1.106)
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