For this assignment, you will continue entering into conversations with literature, though this time, it is with August Wilson’s play Fences. Below are several prompts; please choose one (1).
In addition to including evidence to support your thesis from the play itself, you will incorporate 1-2 outside sources to support your views or to address counterarguments. I will provide these sources; they will be assigned during weeks 5.
Word Count: 1200-1800 words
Minimum of 8 paragraphs
Times New Roman, 11 or 12 pt. font
MLA Works Cited
1-2 secondary sources (readings assigned during week 5)
Essay Prompt Options (Choose 1):
1. About the character Rose, Viola Davis says in the NPR interview with Denzel Washington that: “You see a woman who is not downtrodden. It was very important for me to create an entire and specific portrait of a woman.” Write an essay in which you discuss the character of Rose and “the complete journey of womanhood” she experiences in the play. Your thesis statement should make some sort of claim about the journey Rose makes (if she does in fact do so, in your opinion).
2. Denzel Washington discusses the spiritual arc the character of Troy experiences throughout the play, which he describes as “from hell to hallelujah.” Write an essay in which you discuss this arc. Do you agree? Disagree? Both? Support your stance with evidence from the play.
3. Davis claims that “Wilson honors those men that people just never even talk about, men in history that were invisible men like my dad who was a groom on a race track and born in 1936, had a fifth-grade education.” Write an essay in which you explore what life was like for men like Troy Maxson, who the play depicts as having lived in Pittsburgh’s “Hill District” from 1918-1965, and the ways in which (if at all), the play honors them.
4. Write an essay in which you evaluate the film version of Fences directed by Denzel Washington. What choices did he make as a director that invite particular interpretations of Wilson’s play? For example, you might think about the actors cast in particular roles, and what audiences they might appeal to. You might focus on set design, and the setting or environment of the play. You might choose to focus on costume design. For this particular prompt, you are paying attention to the production itself, not just the text of the play, and how the production—how Washington directed it—encourages a particular interpretation of the play.
5. Write an essay in which you make a claim about what students miss by reading about the play instead of the play itself. For this option, you must find a site that explains the play to students so that they don’t have to read the play themselves. In your essay, you must identify the site and explain what it offers to students. Your thesis must argue what students miss by not wrestling with the original material by August Wilson. In other words, make an argument for why people should take the time to read the play. Rely on our class lexicon for terms that may help you articulate what is lacking from the summaries and character analyses that are provided for students on these sites.