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The Analysis of Troy Character in "Fences"

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 far more than presumable that he most likely pulled from real-life experiences and observations to generate such a realistic portrayal of Blacks in the ‘50s. His protagonist, Troy Maxson, is widely considered by Black Infant Boomers to be a quite relatable, probably 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 functions as a garbage collector for the Sanitation Department to offer 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 since he has endured as well several upsets in life therefore far. He was one thing of a baseball star in the Negro Leagues, but he was barred from playing in the Key Leagues, first because he was Black and subsequently since he was too old by the time integration began. He, for that reason, represents a common criticism of Jackie Robinson in the Black neighborhood that, in spite of the barriers Robinson broke, he was hardly the ideal Black player that could have broken them down. Troy represents that viewpoint and even says outright at one point, “I accomplished observed a hundred niggers play greater than Jackie Robinson. Hell, I know some teams Jackie Robinson couldn’t even make!” (Wilson i.i). Now, Troy proves to be a character predisposed toward hyperbole, but this remains a relatable statement for several African Americans alive nowadays who, possibly as children, heard these sentiments bandied about with much fervor at the time.

Troy represents a Black archetype, but Jackie Robinson serves as a sort of unseen character in the story due to the several references throughout the play to his abilities and the barriers he broke. Robinson represents both in the story and in reality a profitable challenge to standard norms and, much more importantly, historic modify. No doubt, August Wilson was of a generation thoroughly influenced by the modify of discourse that Robinson effected in the latter half of the twentieth century. New Historicism is a lens of literary criticism that defines the term, discourses, as “ways of seeing and talking about the world” (Dobie 181). The discourse in the era of Fences is mid-shift, altering from 1 that not only segregated Blacks and Whites on a subaltern level but also segregated their ambitions as nicely. Lives for African Americans were altering due to the fact they have been in a position to dream the exact same dreams as their White counterparts and pursue those dreams (i.e. skilled sports).

Troy’s son, Corey Maxson, is very considerably a item of August Wilson’s generation. He is influenced by the shifting discourse in America at the time, and he, therefore, is committed to the dream of pursuing a expert profession in football, which is rapidly eclipsing baseball as the American pastime. Corey has been presented a scholarship to play football in college, and Rose nurtures this ambition, seeing it as an chance to, at the quite least, go to college and further his education if not also in the end play for the NFL. Troy, on the other hand, is quintessentially unsupportive, and for some, it can be frustrating to read or watch on stage without understanding the correct psychological drive behind Troy’s reasoning.

Carl Jung furthered what is termed neo-Freudian psychology as a student and, as some contact him, a successor of Sigmund Freud. Jung purported that “we should deal with 3 potent archetypes that compose the self. They are the shadow, the anima, and the persona” (Dobie 64). Jungian psychoanalysis defines the shadow as the side of the self that a single does not want to confront, likening it to a villain of sorts or the devil within. The anima (for guys animus for girls), on the other hand, is the driving force that wills an person to act, and Jung recommended this anima is female for men—the animus male for women—to indicate it as a characteristic of the opposite sex inside a person and to recommend that men and women are frequently only conscious of this opposite sex in dreams (a Freudian concept) or by projecting it onto someone else in reality. Ultimately, the persona is most akin to Freud’s thought of the ego it is external mask 1 portrays to other individuals as an correct representation of the self. Jung believed that, to obtain individuation (i.e. nicely-adjusted, psychological health), one particular should learn and accept one’s diverse sides of self.

Troy comes up quick of individuation because he has not accepted all sides of self, though all are present and observable in the play. Troy is continuously expressing his really like for Rose in the most grandiose techniques in front of Bono, Corey, Gabe, and Lyons alike. He is vivacious around her and claims that she is the center of his globe in a single way or another, but he refuses in the process to concede that he is unfaithful to her. He cheats on her with a lady from perform whom the audience in no way sees, and Bono confronts him about it a number of times. In fact, one particular of the most classic lines of the entire production comes from Bono’s answer to Troy about why the fence Rose wants Troy to develop is so essential. Bono says, “Some people build fences to keep folks out… and other individuals construct fences to keep men and women in” (Wilson). Troy stubbornly responds that he does not need anybody to tell him that his wife loves him. The side of him that betrays the lady he genuinely appears to really like is a side of himself with which he cannot come to terms or even acknowledge.

Meanwhile, Rose is most definitely the woman on whom Troy projects his anima. She provides him the impetus to get up and go to perform each and every day. Troy’s unseen mistress can effortlessly be mistaken for the projection of his anima in that Troy admits that she enables him to really feel great about himself, but this is not a move to action. Troy receives, for all intents and purposes, his will to reside from his relationship with Rose. His infidelity, even so, is proof that he has lost sight of just how essential Rose is to the makeup of his person self, which is an oversight that only further exacerbates his lack of individuation. He has, alternatively, confected a lively and extremely opinionated persona for himself that is allegedly self-adequate, faithful, and supportive. The latter is just as significantly a lie as the two former considering that he does not help his son’s ambition based on the illusion he has created for himself that the White man will not let any Black man attain something since he never ever accomplished his personal ambitions.

August Wilson extrapolates these 3 dimensions from this character, perhaps from true-life experiences with comparable men and women, and highlights them for the audience. This tends to make Troy a really complex, 3-dimensional character, befitting his corresponding Black archetype. Jungian psychoanalysis is also frequently referred to in literary theory as mythological criticism, even so, which offers especially with literary archetypes, and Wilson makes use of them extensively in the play. For example, mythological literary criticism establishes gardens as symbols of innocence a lot like the Garden of Eden, and when the audience is introduced in the final act to Raynell, Troy’s daughter born out of wedlock, she is tending to a tiny garden in the backyard for Rose. This alludes to Troy’s principal argument as to why Rose should help him raise her on the basis that, regardless of his sins, Raynell is innocent and, as a result, does not deserve to be abandoned just because her mother dies in labor. Similarly, Wilson fits Rose to a relatively widespread archetype among female figures like Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, Aphrodite of Greek mythology, or Isis of Egyptian mythology. The audience most likely expects Troy to bring Raynell to her when he does because the audience has come to associate her with nurturance and fertility.

One of the primary archetypes with whom Troy interacts, though, is the devil, even if only figuratively. Troy repeatedly invokes an unseen personification of death, challenging some harbinger thereof to come and get him. Mythological criticism loosely analyses the devil as simply an evil of sorts that intrudes into characters’ lives to either destroy or tempt them. Wilson has no use for its in-depth, Faustian roots, but he definitely employs the archetype to presage Troy’s death.

Carl Jung died in 1961, and it was for the duration of the twentieth century that his neo-Freudian work served as a sort of springboard for a lot of additional advancements in the field of psychology. New Historicism would not overlook the fact that August Wilson lived for the duration of the time that Jung’s perform was nevertheless heavily influencing the field, and by the 1980s, the adaptation of Jung’s perform for literary application (starting with Northrop Frye in the 1950s) had noticed three decades of improvement and was likely just on the cusp of becoming proliferated nationwide all through many much more collegiate applications. There is substantial proof in Wilson’s function to suggest that he was privy to and influenced by the emergence of psychoanalytical literary theory, and his characters seem that considerably fuller for it.

Functions Cited

Dobie, Ann B. Theory into Practice: An Introduction to Literary Criticism. 4th ed. Boston: Thomson Heinle, 2015. Print.

Wilson, August. Fences. New York City: Plume, 1986. Print
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