Fences

New Historicist Psychoanalysis of Troy in Fences College

August Wilson’s Fences is a classic play about African-American life written in 1983 and set sometime in the 1950s. It serves as the sixth installment in Wilson’s “Pittsburgh Cycle,” which spans ten installments in total. Fences is a period piece during a decade through which Wilson had personally lived by the time he wrote the play, which makes it more than presumable that he likely pulled from real-life experiences and observations to create such a realistic portrayal of Blacks in the ‘50s. His protagonist, Troy Maxson, is widely considered by Black Baby Boomers to be a very relatable, perhaps even archetypal character of the Black community from that era, but Wilson delves deeply into the psyche of the character to reveal all of Troy’s dimensions, elucidating what would otherwise be the mysteries of a misunderstood character of the 1950s.

Troy works as a garbage collector for the Sanitation Department to provide for his wife, Rose, and his teenage son, Corey. Troy has settled into a rhythm of life that hinges on a very grim outlook, but he prefers it because he has endured too many upsets in life thus far. He was something of a baseball star in the Negro Leagues, but he was barred from playing in the Major Leagues, first...

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