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In reply to Megan Mullen's problems with "The Piano," I believe that the
film must be taken basically as metaphor.  Perhaps the Holly Hunter character
represents the bottled up emotions of women in the 19th century.  She chooses
to "speak" through the piano.  At the end of the movie, she says that she is
learning how to speak.  Her husband cuts off her finger as punishment for her
adultery and lies, but also to prevent her from playing, and thus "speaking."
She has always been tied to the piano.  So when she pushes it overboard, she
no longer needs it.  She wants to be free, but it still holds her, almost
taking both to their deaths, but she is resurrected, free at last to be
herself and find happiness - all metaphor, symbolic, and beautiful.
 
Dennis Ross
The University of Miami