Themes Of Tennessee Williams Essay, Research Paper
In the three plays by Tennessee Williams the Glass Menagerie, The Long Goodbye, and Suddenly Last Summer, they all share the same general theme. This theme is that no matter how low you are in your life you can always rise above your problems and get your life on the right track. In The Glass Menagerie, Laura is the one that has to rise above her disability problem. She overplays her disability and this is what is holding her down from going onto bigger and better things. In The Long Goodbye, Joe thinks he just can’t write anymore in the beginning, but in the end he comes through, and rises above his writing problems. In Suddenly Last Summer, the main character, Mrs. Venable is suffering from the tragedy of losing her son, so she tried to blame her loss on Catherine. This also relates to Tennessee Williams’ life when he was younger. Older children mistreated Tennessee when he was young because he was a little different from the other children. After this happened he started to write, and express his emotions through words rather than fighting back and getting into trouble. He rose above his problems when he was young, and this characteristic is shown in his three plays previously listed.
In the first of the three plays, The Glass Menagerie, Laura expresses the theme of you can overcome your obstacles in life no matter how hard they seem, by her actions. She has a disability with her legs and had to wear a special support on her leg to help her with it. She overplays her disability to the point that she will not go to Business College, she is very shy around other people, and will barely leave the apartment at all. You know how much Laura is bothered by her disability by this quote. ” It was hardly even noticeable.” Said Jim. ” I just thought it was making a thunderous clumping noise.” By this quote, you now see that Laura is exaggerating her disability in her mind, and in actuality it isn’t that drastic. Jim tells her that it wasn’t noticed by most of the kids, but she made it much bigger than it really was. You can also see how shy she is by this next quote. ” You answer the door mother!” This quote shows how shy that Laura is, that she will not even answer the door when Jim comes for dinner. Tennessee is unlike Laura in the aspect that he overcame his problems and Laura does not. She had a small disability years ago, that has healed, and she exaggerates it so much that her life is being held up. This example just shows you that you have to cope with your problems or they can hold you up from progressing in life.
In the next play, The Long Goodbye, there is one character who is obviously the supporter of the universal theme that you can always beat the odds and come out on top of your problems. This character is Joe. Joe’s attitude in the beginning of the play is not looking very good at all. His attitude can be shown very well by this quote. ” I just can’t make any sense with my writings anymore.” The word can’t is the main word in this quote, because when you say you can’t, that usually means I won’t. Whenever you are trying to achieve a goal or a standard, the most negative word you can say is I can’t. That is why Joe’s attitude is looking so glum. Joe is not like Laura and didn’t give up right away, and tried hard to get back up after he was knocked down. This is shown by what his sister says in this quote. ” I knew you could do it Joe, and you did, because you didn’t give up.”
(I, iii, pg. 28) This quote shows how, even though Joe was down he was not out. Another factor in Joe’s ending success might be credited to his sister. Without his sister, he would have had no support, and without that he might have not been able to come through after he was down. Joe was like Williams, in that they both overcame serious problems and succeeded in achieving their goal. Williams rose above the bullies, because he did not lower himself to the bully’s level and try to fight back. Joe is a good
example of Tennessee’s younger years when he was picked on by bullies, but rose above them and succeeded. This shows how even though the odds are against someone if they strive to succeed hard enough they can succeed.
In the last play, Suddenly Last Summer, Mrs. Venable is the one that has to conquer her problems. The main problem that Mrs. Venable has to cope with is the death of her son, Sebastian. She is looking for someone to blame and the person she thinks of is Catherine, Sebastian’s fianc e. ” She is responsible for Sebastian’s death!” (I i 12) Instead of coping with the loss of her son like an adult, she is trying to blame it on someone to sooth her wounds. Not only is she trying to blame someone who is innocent, it is someone who her son loved and who loved her son. Her son would be very disappointed if he knew what was going on with his mother and fianc e. Along with blaming Catherine for her loss, Mrs. Venable was trying to have a special operation on Catherine to make her not be mentally ill, even though she really isn’t. Mrs. Venable is rich and said that Catherine was disturbed so everyone agreed with her. The surgery is very risky also, but that does not seem to bother Mrs. Venable at all, she just wants to have someone pay for her son’s death. You find out how risky the procedure is by the way the doctor talks about it: ” My work is such a new and radical thing that people are scared to fund it.” (I i 29) When the doctor says that people are scared of the operation, that shows how risky it is. That shows how much revenge that Mrs. Venable is seeking, and how she does not care who she hurts as long as she believes that she will be happier. Mrs. Venable is much like Laura, in that neither of them could overcome their obstacles in life. Tennessee Williams is a direct contrast from Mrs. Venable. When Williams was being picked on he did not seek revenge, or retaliation, on the other hand Mrs. Venable did. When she found out that her son had died, she wanted someone to blame and suffer for her loss, because she could not just handle the fact that his death was an accident. Mrs. Venable is a bad representation for someone that is trying to cope with her problems logically. Not only is she hurting herself, she is affecting the lives of others as well.
The three main characters in the plays, Laura, Joe, and Mrs. Venable, all have a relation to Tennessee Williams’ life. When Tennessee was younger, there was a group of bullies that made fun of Williams, because he did not act like all of the other kids. When he was made fun of, he acted very maturely, he just ignored them. It also helped that he could always resort to his writings to express his inner feelings and thoughts. This helped because instead of fighting and getting in trouble, he would just put his feelings on paper. The only character that also learned how to cope with his problems is Joe, who overcame his problems and succeeded in his writings. Joe is unlike both of the other characters Laura and Mrs. Venable, because they both could not handle the problems that were subjected to them in their life. Laura overreacted about her disability and could not handle that problem, and that held her life down. Mrs. Venable could not cope with the loss of her only child, and seeked revenge against anyone she thought was responsible. That was why she could not cope with her problems. So, Williams’ life is similar to Joe’s because of their ability to conquer their problems.
In conclusion, although not all of the characters could successfully defeat the obstacles brought against them, they had a choice of what to do. They just could not handle the pressure that problem solving presents. First of all there is Laura: she did have a problem with her leg, but that went away and she still makes it a factor in her life. If she could have just put that in her past, she would be much better off. Next is Mrs. Venable, she did have a very depressing event in her life, but she goes too far when she tries to make a doctor perform surgery on her. She wants the doctor to do this because she feels as though Catherine is responsible for her son’s death. Last but not least is Joe. He is the only one who could actually overcome his problems successfully. Although he wanted to quit in the beginning, he persisted and finally could express his thoughts clearly on paper and got his book published. Tennessee Williams related his life to these three plays, in that he had to conquer problems that arose when he was younger. In life everyone has problems, the difference between the successful and the unsuccessful is how they cope with those problems.
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