Critical Analysis of a Play You
You will be wiring an essay in which you offer a critical analysis of Fences, by August
Wilson. These are some important factors to consider:
1. Characters: What do they represent? How do they evolve and change?
2. Setting: What significance do the various scenes have in establishing the play’s
3. Plot: How do the characters actions advance the plot? How do the characters
interact with one another?
4. Themes: How are such fundamental themes as parent/child relationships, power/
powerlessness, courage/weakness, decisiveness/confusion treated?
5. Symbols: What do they represent? Why are they symbolic?
6. Language: What conventions are observed? What phrasing intrigues you? What
phrases are well turned? What words are well used? How do individual characters
1. Discuss the protagonist and the major characters in the play. Consider what they
represent, how they change during the course of events, and how one or each of
the characters relate to the protagonist.
2. What is the play’s major dramatic question and at what point is it answered?
3. How early in the play, and from what passages, do you perceive that a character is
a villain, or a hero?
4. What comic elements does the play contain? How are they juxtaposed with the
Things to Remember:
1. The essay must be 1000 words in length and cite at least one source on a Work
2. Avoid UNNECESSARY plot summary. Expect that the instructor is familiar with
the play and do not just tell what the play is about—explain what it means.
3. Do not editorialize. This is not a play review, so opinions about whether the play
is good or bad are irrelevant.
4. When you discuss events in this essay, use PRESENT TENSE forms of verbs.
This is a rule for writing about all forms of literature