The Use of Symbolism and Imagery for Characterisation in "Fences"

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The Use of Symbolism and Imagery for Characterisation in "Fences" essay
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August Wilson chose to write a play known as “Fences” in 1985. “Fences” is a story about a former baseball player that got into some trouble as a teenager and was sent to jail for fifteen years and became a waste management professional (garbage man). Wilson uses foreshadow, imagery, and symbolism in the play to notify the reader of the characters actions to come further along in the book.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, August Wilson has written many of plays and won numerous awards for his work. He was influenced by what he called 'the four Bs. ' The four B’s consists of writers, poets, and music. Throughout his career, Wilson wanted to prove that he could write after being accused of plagiarism. As a result, “Fences was Wilson's second play to go to Broadway which also won him the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. ”

Symbolism in Fences

Throughout the play, Troy’s wife Rose has tried to get Troy to build up a fence around their small Pittsburg home but Troy doesn’t understand why and always puts it off until the next Saturday. This is an example of the author using symbolism. This is considered symbolism because fences are used to keep things either in them or out of them. Bono which is Troy’s best friend states “ Some people build fences to keep people out and other people build fences to keep people in. Rose wants to hold on to you all. She loves you. ” Wilson 59-72 This line is Bono trying to let Troy know that he needs to hold onto Rose because there is nobody like her. Troy has been procrastinating on building this fence so he won’t feel trapped even though he has been married to her for eighteen years and has brought along a family he is responsible for.

Another example of the author using symbolism would be how Troy’s brother Gabriel and his trumpet. Gabe went off to fight in a war and had to have a metal plate in one side of his head so he deals with some challenges. After their mother died, Troy had to step up to the plate and be the more responsible one. After Troy had a heart attack, Corey returned from the Marines but was apprehensive about attending his funeral. Gabriel returned from being taken away from his home where he shared it with Ms. Pearl to come to the funeral. After reuniting with Rose and his nephews and niece, he then touched each of their heads and asked Troy if he was ready. Gabriel then proceeds to blow his old trumpet without mouthpiece with much force. After two unsuccessful blows, the third one worked and they all looked up at the sky and saw that the clouds opened with the sun shining.

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One more example of symbolism in Fences is Troy's baseball bat. Throughout the play, Troy is frequently seen carrying and talking about his old baseball bat, which he used to play in the Negro Leagues. The bat represents Troy's past and his desire to hold onto his glory days, even as he struggles with the realities of his present life. In many ways, the bat is a symbol of Troy's inner turmoil, as he tries to come to terms with the disappointments and challenges he faces in his relationships and in his job. When Troy's son Cory asks to play football, Troy refuses, saying that sports will never amount to anything, and instead tries to force his own dreams onto Cory. The bat represents Troy's stubbornness and his unwillingness to let go of his own vision of success, even as it threatens to drive away the people he loves.

Imagery in Fences

"See... this is what I'm talking about. You come along here calling me... wanting to know where I'm at, who I'm with, what I'm doing... talking 'bout I gotta check in with you like I'm some damn piece of property." (Act 1, Scene 1) In this quote, the imagery of property is used to describe how Troy feels like he is being treated like an object rather than a human being.

"She takes and puts everything in its place, like it's supposed to be. And she goes through the motions like she's done it a million times before. Like it don't matter." (Act 2, Scene 2) This quote uses the imagery of motion to describe how Rose deals with her grief over Troy's infidelity. The repetition of the phrase "like she's done it a million times before" emphasizes the sense of routine and mechanical nature of her actions.

"The blackness of it is striking. Like deep, deep water. It shines like oil. And the blues in it—God, the blues in it." (Act 1, Scene 1) This quote uses the imagery of darkness and color to describe the appearance of Gabriel's coat. The vivid language creates a strong visual image in the reader's mind.

The main character Troy somehow resulted in singing a song that his father used to sing about his “dog”. The dog’s name was blue and in this song, it said “Blue laid down and died like a man, now he’s treeing possums in the Promised Land. I’m gonna tell you this just to let you know, Blue’s gone where the good dogs go. ” This is foreshadowing that once Troy died that he was going onto the place where he belonged which was heaven.

In conclusion, August Wilson used to foreshadow, imagery, and symbolism to build up the characters and their actions throughout the book. When Troy and Corey get into a heated conversation where Corey informs Troy about how he really feels about him as a father figure it turns physical and leads to Troy having a heart attack then being welcomed into heaven later on.

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The essay delves into August Wilson's play "Fences," examining its use of foreshadowing, imagery, and symbolism to enhance character development and plot progression. The writer effectively highlights instances of symbolism, such as the fence, Gabriel's trumpet, and Troy's baseball bat, providing insightful interpretations. The inclusion of relevant quotes from the play adds depth to the analysis. The discussion on imagery also showcases the writer's understanding of how visual language enhances the reader's experience. However, the essay could benefit from deeper exploration of foreshadowing instances and their impact on the story, as well as more nuanced examination of how imagery contributes to thematic elements.
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Foreshadowing Analysis: Offer a more comprehensive exploration of foreshadowing, discussing its influence on character arcs and the overall narrative. Imagery Significance: Connect the discussed imagery examples more explicitly to the play's themes and character dynamics, emphasizing their role in conveying emotions and relationships. Thematic Discussion: Expand on how the analyzed literary devices contribute to the themes and messages of the play, offering a deeper understanding of their significance. Cohesive Conclusion: Summarize the key insights gained from analyzing foreshadowing, imagery, and symbolism, tying them back to the play's broader themes and impact.
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The Use of Symbolism and Imagery for Characterisation in "Fences" essay

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