What are the implications in the lack of voice in The Piano?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I certainly think that the lack of voice casts profound implications on the film and the development of its plot.  The fact that Ada has been rendered into a position where she physically lacks voice and also lacks it internally is the exposition of the film.  She is forced into marriage with Alistair by her father.  Her only mode of expression, the piano, is silenced and denied to her by Alistair as it will not fit into the house. Adding to this is the fact that Ada will not speak.  These help to establish that there is a part of her own identity that remains distinct from others, a part of her being that is not integrated with the world.  It is this point in terms of the lack of voice that ends up being such a part of Ada.  The entire narrative is focused on if and how Ada can reintegrate her own voice with the world.  The fact that she goes into the water with the piano is a part of this, as well.  It is the condition of a lack of voice where she decides to plunge into the water with the piano, the instrument of expression.  Yet, her fighting out of the water as well as the relationship with Baines, helps to establish her voice as part of the world.  She gives piano lessons, is able to play with the prosthetic finger that Baines made for her, and is even taking voice lessons.  In the ending, one sees that Ada's voice is present, something that she has found can coexist with both the piano that is submerged under the water and with her living above it.  The construction of Ada's character is one in which voice is not shown to be "either/ or," in a binary oppositional manner.  Ada is able to choose to have her voice both integrated into the world as well as remaining distinct from it, in terms of loyalty to her piano in the water.  In this, the expositional lack of voice has been supplanted by a vision where voice and choice have merged.

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