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The Piano Lesson

Main Ideas

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