Fences

by: August Wilson

Suggested Essay Topics

Writing help Suggested Essay Topics

What elements does Wilson employ to give the audience a sense that time has passed and characters have changed during the course of the play?

How does Fences fulfill Wilson's description of the style as a "blues aesthetic?"

Is Troy a tragic figure, a hero, a villain or a combination of these types? Is he a sympathetic character?

How does Wilson create the time period of the play with his language? Could the play take place in a different decade? Why or why not?

In many American plays, blacks play only minor roles or are only mentioned in passing by the main characters. Wilson reverses this by only referring to white characters but never having them appear on stage. What effect does this have on the play? How does their absence and presence inform the characters' world? Would the play be more effective or less effective if the white characters mentioned in the play were more present? Provide textual evidence to support your answer.

What is the play's attitude towards women? How might a female playwright tell the story of Fences differently than August Wilson? What themes or issues might be raised in a play about blacks in the 1950's that Wilson does not address? Do Rose and the women mentioned in the play typify roles of the 1950's or defy them? What attributes or actions of the female characters support your interpretation?

Some critics of August Wilson complain that "nothing happens" in his plays, meaning the plot is too subtle to be dramatic. Write a review of Fences arguing against this assertion and proving that it is a dramatic work. Back up your opinion with textual support.

Compare and contrast Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman with Fences. Compare and contrast the roles of fate vs. personal actions in the story of Willie Loman and Troy Maxson.