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The Piano Lesson

August Wilson

Key Facts

Main ideas Key Facts

full title · The Piano Lesson

author · August Wilson

type of work · Drama

genre · Melodrama

language · English

time and place written · Written in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Pittsburgh in 1986

date of first publication · 1987; first produced at the Yale Repertory Theater in 1987 and on Broadway in 1990

publisher · Yale University (Yale Theater magazine)

narrator · None

climax · Boy Willie and Berniece confront Sutter's ghost

protagonists · Boy Willie, Berniece

antagonist · Boy Willie

setting (time) · Early 1930s

setting (place) · The kitchen and parlor of Doaker's house, Pittsburgh

point of view · Drama, not applicable

falling action · Boy Willie's departure; Berniece's giving of thanks

tense · The play unfolds in the time of the present

foreshadowing · Sutter's ghost stirs throughout the play, foreshadowing the final showdown

tone · Tragicomic

themes · Memory/historical legacy

motifs · The maternal and paternal line; the mark; music; the call to the dead; ghosts

symbols · The piano