August Wilson’s Fences Critical Essay

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer


August Wilson’s Fences displays the struggle of African Americans to attain their ambitions. Wilson explained clearly how men in African-American struggled to be victorious in achieving their dreams. Literary scripts can contribute greatly as historical articles which express social actualities that are creatively displayed by the Wilson.

Hence, literature may not be disconnected from society and the analysis of literature must be associated to society. August Wilson is well-known in American literature as a writer of plays of African-American who usually narrate about African incidences in the past societies in U.S. The attempts of African Americans to attain their ambitions, as well as its challenging social matters like discriminations are portrayed in his play called Fences.

This play narrates about a black family in 1950s who attempted to live among the people in the American urban regions (Bogumi 34). The author himself stayed in African American slum society during his early age, which he went on to portray in several dramatic writings.

The play, Fences, gives an appealing case of the way both metaphysical and physical expressions of particular African retentions joint to enhance existing African American culture. The Africa which the author revives in Fences portrays itself through different levels and in both explicit and implicit ways. Normally, such ways may not be comprehended if American sense exists as the only standard. These African links come out in unspoken policies which shape everyday rituals of such characters and instill the play on several stages.

Through analyzing Fences within African American cosmology, instead of depending only upon Western models of examination, the play produces a greater important interpretation of how black Americans settle the issues of their “double consciousness” in the America (Steffens 5). That African cosmology turns into an important section of the play’s sub textual tale, a tale which opposes America’s disruptive discrimination with Africa’s ability to cure, reunite, and empower.

All through the play, the search of dreams has contributed greatly in the characters’ self-achievement. Nevertheless, Fences mainly focused on the men characters and their goals; the author did not talk much about the characters of women. As Wilson portrays the characters of men in detail, the dreams of female characters stay undeclared.

Furthermore, just one female, called Rose Maxson, who represented his women characters, while the rest of women protagonists only existed after they are cited by other women characters participating in the play. It appears that the author merely provides opportunity to Rose to express her mind as a member of the African American women. Hence, Rose is a main character which may be employed as the channel to understand about the way women observe the benefit of possessing and attaining their dreams.

From the start of the play, Rose is expressed as the character under the patriarchal control and association with her spouse is exemplified through her spouse’s sexist viewpoints. Just like the rest of Black women, when she went into marriage, she had to sacrifice her freedom and she is possessed and completely authorized by her husband.

While she attempts to safeguard her family, Troy is betraying through having relationship with different women as his manner to attain free will. This issue surprised Rose: “You should have stayed in my bed, Troy… You should have held me tight. You should have grabbed me and hold on.” (Wilson 1333). She is curious about Troy’s faithfulness as her spouse and his compliance to maintain their marriage in a positive path.

The goods moods and close relations among a mother and children as well may be observed in the family of the author. Wilson and his brothers and sisters took their mother as their role model, whereas their father was mainly not there during their early age. Their mother was the person who showed them the benefit of possessing stable sense of satisfaction and zero tolerance for impartiality.

As the author wrote about African-American, he did not prevent the control of culture in the place he grew up, including his previous incidences of discrimination, and he made his play derived on those factors which he experienced from his life. Additionally, he expressed that Fences provides a distinct viewpoint on the way persons observe the African-Americans, which can have an impact on the way they think and contact each other.

In Fences, Wilson attempted to describe the experiences of women in the past societies through introducing or using Rose, he employed her character as his device to portray how difficult the life of Black American is. Her disappointment in attaining her dream to have a successful marriage and her intention to dedicate her life greatly on her parenthood’s side, looks like the life of some African American mothers.

His mother, who was unsuccessful in trying to have the best family during her initial marriage, along with her achievement in improving her children’s status, are his devices to direct his reader to understand effectively about the past of African American females.

From the analysis of Fences, it can be deduced that the author is conscious of the status of African-American who are near him and he made his play derived from such facts (Bogumi 34), therefore Wilson employed the characters like Rose to pass a point to the African American women to consider their ambitions and even, to add more efforts to attain their goals, even though their goals are still nearly linked to the concepts satisfying their responsibilities as the core provider of the family.

He did well in displaying is perspective on the way African American women must observe the benefit of having their own goals and what they must perform to attain such goals.

Certainly, African American women in the past had fewer opportunities upon getting into adulthood. Rarely did such options go past their marriage, parenthood, and family life.

Finances used during their schooling was seen as an ill-advised investment, particularly since less job opportunities were not there for them which needed more than a capacity of providing for the needs of the white Americans. Furthermore, the status of anti-intellectualism against female proposed that schooling “stained” women and create them not to be better wives.


In conclusion, the existence of the African-Americans is mainly evaluated by men values and standards. From the above analysis, female are placed in the inequality position by men and the patriarchal structure, and this status creates them, rarely, have an opportunity to consider their own dreams so attain them. Wilson is successful in displaying is perspective on what issues experienced by women who are attempting to attain their dreams as a kind of equality and acceptance in the community.

August Wilson’s Fences not only motivates debate, but it as well motivates thoughts concerning human status. The play brings about the degree of understanding that exceeds certain experiences of the Maxson family and continues to portray a simple wisdom for both the individual and for that particular person as a connection in a family system (Steffens 5). The idea of this play is to bring to the front within complete observation of the racial and economic difficulties which African Americans faced during past America society.

Works Cited

Bogumi, Maryl. Understanding August Wilson. Columbia, SC: Univ of South Carolina Press, 1999. Print.

Steffens, Johannes. Recognizing ‘Fences’ – Troy Maxson’s Identity Politics. New York: GRIN Verlag, 2007. print.

Wilson, August. Fences Drama: A Pocket Anthology. 3rd Ed. New York: Penguin Academics, 2006. Print.

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