"Fences" and "The Piano Lesson" are two extraordinary works created by August Wilson. Throughout these two plays there is a constant struggle while at the same time these stories revolve around a similar theme or symbol. In "Fences", the idea of building the "fence" is very similar to the "piano" in "The Piano Lesson". A major similarity between “The Piano Lesson” and “Fences” is that both plays stick primarily to the same setting. A lot of each play’s meaning has a lot to do with its setting.
In “Fences,” the play expresses the need to break through the declining social barriers, barriers physically represented by the actual fence around the house. “The Piano Lesson” is about the history of the family and how the characters overcome it, a history which is physically represented in the piano itself both by the spirits believed to be held within and in the many intricate carvings. Both plays also use the same colloquialisms—the same southern, “black” slang way of speaking. This emphasizes the feel and idea of brotherhood among the actors and brings them closer to their audience.
By lowering the elevation of their dialogue, the actors are brought onto the same plane as the audience, and the audience is better able to relate to their plights. This is important because both plays are very emotionally driven, and therefore must connect to the audience on an emotional level as much as possible. While “The Piano Lesson” and “Fences” share many similarities, there are also some key differences which occur in accordance with their intents. “The Piano Lesson” includes a lot of flashback elements, moments when the characters recall and reminisce about their history and past events.
This is very central to the play’s development, since these events are what characterize the extremely symbolic piano, the prop through which the actors release themselves from and come to terms with their past. “Fences,” on the other hand, focuses primarily on leaving the past behind. No flash backs are implemented because the characters are striving to move forward. The only character who lingers in the past ends up falling behind, illustrating the desperate need for people to move forward.