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The Piano Lesson

Essay by   •  November 30, 2014  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,284 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,714 Views

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The play "The Piano Lesson" is written by August Wilson that is set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is based in the time period of 1936. The play contains many characters: Uncle Doaker, Beniece, Boy Willie, Sutter, Wining Boy, Lymon, Maretha, and Avery. The play takes place in Berniece and Boy Willie's uncle's house, Uncle Doaker. He works as a chef for the PA Railroad, and tells the story of the piano's past. Berniece is the protagonist of the play. She is a widow who is still mourning her late husband, Crawly. Berience blames Crawlys death on Boy Willie because he was there when it happened. Boy Willie in the play though is the antagonist. His goal throughout the whole play, and only reason for being in Pittsburgh, is to sell the piano in order to purchase Sutter's land, which his ancestors were once slaves upon. Sutter is the ghost that haunts the piano and the land owner. He killed Boy Willie and Berniece's father after he stole the piano from Sutter's home. Sutter's ghost is seen by Boy Willie and Berniece at two different times in the play. Wining Boy is Uncle Doakers brother. His is the comical character of the play and claims that he has seen the ghosts of the Yellow Dog. Lymon is a longtime friend of Boy Willie. He is running from the law in the South, and claims that he is going to stay in Pittsburgh to start a new life. Maretha, Berniece's daughter, is slowly learning how to play the piano. Finally, Avery is preacher who wants to marry Berniece. Berniece at the end of the play has Avery come back to the house to get rid of Sutter's ghost from Uncle Doaker's house.

"The Piano Lesson" is focused around the piano, which is a family heirloom, being fought over. Boy Willie goes to Uncle Doaker's to get the piano so he can sell it to buy Sutter's land. Uncle Doaker tells him over and over again from his arrival until the end of the play that Berniece will not sell the piano. Berience also lets Boy Willie know that she will not let anyone take the piano many times. Although, throughout the entire play, Boy Willie refuses to listen to anyone and keeps trying to get the piano out of the house. The story behind the piano is told by Uncle Doaker and Berniece at different times throughout the play. In these moments the story of the piano shows why it is so important to the family. Boy Willie ignores the significances of the history behind the piano because he thinks the land is more important and that Berniece is wasting it by not playing it. The last time he tries to take the piano out of the house, Sutter's ghost, who haunts the piano, tries to attack Boy Willie. When this happens Berniece remembers Avery telling her that playing the piano will help get rid of the ghost. She starts to play and the ghost of Sutter disappears for good. After everything settled back down and Boy Willie is about to leave to head back South, without the piano, he reassures Berniece that if she does not keep playing and giving lessons on the piano, he and Sutter's ghost will come back.

During "The Piano Lesson" I noticed a lot of things within the movie that I liked, but also things that I did not like as much. The overall theme of the play I liked because it focused around the importance of family and family's history. Something I was not fond of was ghost. I understand the meaning behind it, but at times it was confusing whether or not it was Sutter. I personally enjoyed "The Piano Lesson". The meaning behind the play was the one thing that kept my interest. Also, I liked how much it reflected real life in that time period, and even was comparable to now.

The class reaction was hard to decipher. Overall I believe everyone that paid attention and showed up enjoyed the play. People that did not pay attention I think learned something also, but not as much as those who did. The ones that did not pay attention at all I feel sorry for. It might not have been a new and cool play, but it was a good play with a great moral lesson. People have lost touch with history, especially that of their own families. This play I believe showed a lot of people that. Also, the class was very active during the movie; laughing at the funny parts and "oohing" and "awing" at the scarier ones.

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