This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Piano Lesson Essay

2324 words - 10 pages

Kelton Oberle
English 102
Professor Carlberg
May 2, 2014

The Inter-locking Connection Between the Piano and the Ghost

Through extensive review of The Piano Lesson, it can be believed that the Piano, a item treasured by the Charles family, is embodied by the ghost of Sutter, attempting to keep the piano in the Charles family name.

In 1619 the Dutch introduced the first captured Africans, to America, to aid in the production of crops such as tobacco. ( Through out the years of the slave trade, the south continued to import slaves due to the huge demand for their labor. The life of a slave was not a life worth living. Living conditions such as basic sanitation, health, and ...view middle of the document...

Lise Kildegaard, author of White Students Meet Black History in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, associates Boy Willie’s need to buy land and be a farmer instead of holding a city job to his free willed spirit that is prevalent in the story. One of his main characteristics is that Boy Willie has the ability to persuade people into doing the things that he wants them to do. An example of this can be found in Act II, Scene 1; where Boy Willie persuaded Lymon, his friend and accomplice, to buy Boy Willie’s suit. This particular suit Boy Willie claimed had a “magical effect on the ladies”. Another example of Boy Willie’s persuasive characteristic is in Act II, Scene 3; when Boy Willie steals Lymon’s conquest by smooth talking her into leaving with him.

Another prominent character in The Piano Lesson is Berniece. Berniece is the eldest child of the Charles family, now working as a housekeeper for a wealthy family. Throughout her life she has experienced many tragedies, first the death of her and Boy Willie’s Mother, Mama Ola, then the murder of her husband Crawley. Crawley being killed at the hands of Boy Willie’s plot to steal lumber, Crawley being the one to get caught by the land owner and shot. The tragic death raised conflict between Bernice and her brother, which inevitably sets the tone for the continuum of the story. After such tragedies the only positive influence in Bernice’s life is her daughter, Maretha.
Through Bernice’s trying experiences, that of the death of her mother and husband, the only thing that kept her from falling into depression was families sacred piano. Being an iconic symbol of the play, the dated 137 year old piano had the faces of Berniece and Boy Willie’s family linage carved into it’s sides. This in part due to the original owners request. Author of Call-and-Response: Parallel “Slave Narrative” in August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson,” Devon Boan states that: “it [the piano] was important enough enough for black men to die for it, and it was important enough for white men to kill for it.”

The previous remarks gives great emphasis on the importance the piano will play in the story. The piano was an anniversary gift, given to Miss. Ophelia, the wife of Bernice and her brother’s slave owner, the original home to the piano. However, in order to gift the piano to his wife, the slave owner had to sell one and a half slaves. The Miss Ophelia grew accustomed to the slaves presence so when her husband sold them, the wife attempted to trade the piano back for the slaves to return to plantation. When the craftsman, the man who built the piano, refused her plea, Miss. Ophelia fell desperately ill. The slave owner called over Berniece and Boy Willie’s great grandfather to carve the faces of the slaves sold, his wife and child, into the piano. Once the carvings were completed, added were the faces of his parents and important scenes from their family history. (Act 1, Scene 2 pg. 22)

To Berniece, this piano is...

Find Another Essay On The Piano Lesson

Analysis: The Piano Lesson by August Wilson

2242 words - 9 pages August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, tells a story of a family haunted by the pain of their past and their struggle to find peace to move forward. The story begins with character Boy Willie coming up from the south visiting his sister Bernice. Boy Willie introduces the idea of selling the family’s heirloom, a piano, to raise enough money to buy the land on which his ancestors were enslaved. However, both Boy Willie and his sister Berniece own

August Wilson's play "the piano lesson"

564 words - 2 pages I think August wilson's play "the piano lesson" tells us that although there is nothingwrong with persuing the American dream, it should not be at the expense of ones heritageor culture. It also showed the difficulties in releasing the past and moving forward inone's life. It is centered on the conflicts between brother and sister over differences invalues and beliefs.Boy willie wants to sell the piano in the name of his future which is the

The Piano Lesson by August Wilson

1505 words - 6 pages “I got the power of death” (Wilson 29). You might recognize this quote from Boy Willie in The Piano Lesson by August Wilson an African American play writer. In this essay I am going to highlight some things about his life. According to (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia) August Wilson was born on April 27, 1945 in the town of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. He was born Frederick August Kittel, Jr. Son of a German immigrant named Frederick August Kittel

Lessons from The Piano Lesson by August Wilson

949 words - 4 pages What should one do with their legacy, and how should it be put to use? In the play “The Piano Lesson”, the Charles' family faces this question, and struggles to find the answer. The family’s legacy is in the form of a piano. On the piano are carvings of their ancestors. The two main characters that are having a conflict over the piano are Berniece and Boy Willie. Boy Willie wants to sell the piano so he can add the proceeds of the sale to the

Taking a Deeper Look at The Piano Lesson by August Wilson

1181 words - 5 pages Taking a Deeper Look at The Piano Lesson by August Wilson Winner of multiple awards such as the Tony Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize, August Wilson is known most for his forceful cultural plays. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Wilson was born to a white father that later abandoned his family, and a black mother. Wilson dropped out of school in the ninth grade after being accused of

Piano Lesson

846 words - 4 pages Boy Willie is the protagonist in the play The Piano Lesson, which is written by August Wilson. He is a foil character to his sister Berniece. He wants to sell the family piano. His biggest obstacle is his past, and his sister. Berniece wants to salvage the piano and keep it as a namesake. The quarrels revolving around legacies is the central conflict of the play. Boy Willie’s “Super-objective” contains two parts: fear and legacy resulting in

A Lesson Before Dying, Song of Solomon, and athe Piano Lesson

2008 words - 8 pages The books of A Lesson Before Dying, Song of Solomon, and The Piano Lesson are all classic tales of African American Literature. While written in assorted periods and by different authors, the lessons found in between the pages transcend time. They recount stories of injustice, perseverance, and success. Memory and the past play a critical role in understanding each character’s mindset. A Lesson Before Dying portrays the past as both a hindrance

The Piano Lessen

632 words - 3 pages Sibling Rivalry In the play, "The Piano Lesson" by August Wilson, it showed the difficulties in releasing the past and moving forward in one's life. The central conflict is between Boy Willie and Berniece, a brother and a sister. They argue over their differences in values and beliefs in life. Boy Willie wants to sell the piano so he can buy his own land to farm and start a new life for himself, land where his ancestors slaved. He is however

A Summary of Amy Tan's "Two Kinds."

296 words - 2 pages forced by her mother to learn to play from an old deaf man. In rebellion Ni-Kan does not put any effort into learning the piano. She then performs at a recital, plays poorly, and embarrasses herself and her mother. The day after the recital Ni-Kan's mother makes her go pack to the teacher for her lesson. Ni-Kan, out of spite, brought up the twins her mother abandoned in China. This made her mother sad and dropped the piano lessons. Years later

White Man's Happpiness in a Black Man's Misery

2236 words - 9 pages rampant. During the Great Depression the racial segregation was evident within the African-American community because of their dark complexion. Racism towards African-American consists mostly of slavery. A text that illustrates such discrimination is August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. The Piano Lesson is a play that is set in the year 1963 in Pittsburgh. The play is about a brother and sister who have two different thoughts about a piano. Boy

More Than Black and White Keys: A Critical Review of Keyboard Instruments

996 words - 4 pages As I settled on the worn wooden bench for my first organ lesson, a mix of emotions rushed through my mind. I looked down at the familiar black and white keys beneath my fingers with relief, but when I glanced up at a second keyboard and a row of switches, I cringed. My teacher flipped the power switch and the organ began to hum. Tentatively, I tested out a simple melody. The blast of sound that came from the pipes behind me caught me off-guard

Similar Essays

The Piano Lesson Essay

1392 words - 6 pages In the drama, "The Piano Lesson" by August Wilson written in 1945, it showed the difficulties in releasing the past and moving forward in one's life. It also centered on the conflicts between brother and sister over differences in values and beliefs. For example, the brother, Boy Willie, wanted to sell the family piano so he can buy his own land to farm and start a new life for himself. However, he was confronted by his sister, Berniece, who did

The Piano Lesson Essay

988 words - 4 pages A recurring theme in American history has been that of the American Dream, the idea that anyone, regardless of race, can achieve success through hard work. In his stirring 1990 play The Piano Lesson, August Wilson uses African-American characters to embody the American Dream. Throughout the play, set in Pittsburgh in 1936, Wilson traces the economic successes of several African-American characters, such as Boy Willie and Lymon. However, Wilson’s

The Piano Lesson Play Analysis

1145 words - 5 pages In the play, The Piano Lesson, music played an important role. The piano in the play represented the African American history and culture. The ghost of Sutter represented the pain and trauma that had been endured throughout the generations in the Charles family. Berniece did not play the piano because she associated it with pain and the bad things that happened to her family members. She did not want to accept the things that had happened in her

The Piano Lesson By August Wilson

2410 words - 10 pages The Piano Lesson by August Wilson: The Wisdom of the Ivories Can a treasured object of the past serve as a teacher for the future? Once people share the historical significance of it, an object can symbolize the overcoming of hardships of those lives in which it becomes a part. Therefore, it may indeed “instruct” future generations to glean wisdom from the past. August Wilson’s play The Piano Lesson centers on the trials and triumphs of a