Critisism Of Tennesse Williams Essay, Research Paper
Tennessee Williams plays were influenced by the events of his life, which include his illness, his sister s breakdown, his family relations, his reaction to fame, and also his relationships with men and women. The personal events that took place in his life were depicted in his setting, events, themes, and characterization in his plays. To many Williams is just another playwright, but to others he s a playwright with interesting views. One author says, I am convinced that Williams is the most important playwright writing in American today, (Kahn, Pg. 71) while another disagrees and says, Williams writing reflects a continual preoccupation with the same themes, the same kinds of characters. (Weales, Pg. 19) While Williams life has an influence on his plays, it has a negative and positive influence. Williams plays are a torrent of his emotions and frustrations reenacted; yet it is also the truth on how the pragmatic world is. While Williams plays are continual preoccupations with the same themes, they are full of pragmatic ideas, which help the reader realize the truth about life.
It was in Clarksdale that Tom was struck by a serious illness which affected his life in a strange way. (Gould, Pg. 226) At age five, Tom suffered from Diphtheria, which left him week kidneys and paralyzed legs. (Gould, Pg. 226) Because of this illness Tom withdrew from the world. He couldn t play sports like his father wanted him to, which led to a bad relationship with his father, so he was forced to his books and the world of imagination. At age eleven he also withdrew from his family except for his sister Rose and he started writing stories. Tom s illness led him to the characterization of his play A Glass Menagerie. In this play one of the characters, Laura, suffers also from the same illness as Tennessee. She is crippled, and walks with a limp and a brace. This character is basically made up himself and a mixture of other people, like his sister. Tom had a very strong relationship with his sister. He played with her all the time whether in their backyard or in their sitting room.
Rose was a delightful companion spirited, imaginative, fun-loving, she made stories and games to entertain her brother. He in turn looked up to her all during their childhood in Mississippi and Tennessee. (Gould, Pg. 226)
Laura, in his play, was a subtle girl who stayed indoors and didn t have friends. She had a collection of glass figurines. She was always ridiculed by her mom about gentleman callers, whom she did not receive. This is how Williams characterized his sister.
The only childhood interest she kept up was her collection of glass animals of different sizes, some miniature, some not so small, which she had begun in Mississippi. She did not have many friends… (Gould, Pg. 229)
His sister in real life did occasionally go out with boys and was always ridiculed about everything by their father. This made his sister sullen and withdrawn. After a while, because of the continuous battles between Rose and their father, Tom would just go into his room and write. He wrote principally as a means of escape from the miserable family life, and over his father s objections… (Gould, Pg.229) Tom s father was like and emissary from the real world. In other words he did what others in the real world did. He played pokers with his work buddies, he drank, and he didn t get along with people especially his family. (Gould, Pg. 228)
Another adjustment that proved a serious problem to Tom and his sister was the dominant presence of their father. Up until they moved to St. Louis, he had been practically a stranger to them or, at most, an occasional visitor to the rectory, who seemed less a parent to them than their grandfather. (Gould, Pg. 227)
Because of his presence, Williams sister Rose was eventually drawn to a mental breakdown because their father kept picking on her and Williams as well. This was another event in Williams s life, which he wrote about. In the play A Streetcar Named Desire, the character Stanley, who was also an emissary from the real world, with his gambling and drinking, was like Williams father. The other character, Blanche, many would was his sister. In the play, Stanley was so bent on proving that Blanche was a liar that he did almost everything to prove it. At the end he ended up raping her, which some would say drove Blanch being carried away to the mental asylum. This is how Williams pictured what his father was doing to his sister. He was basically raping her with his mean-temper and lashings that it drove her to her mental breakdown. (Gould, Pg. 228) Rose died in the asylum of a lobotomy that the doctors thought would release pressure in her brain, so she could live a normal life. William blamed the death on himself. Because of this, he wrote several plays,
In some dim way would make it up to her at least, in his own mind. Even though she might not hear it, the work would be is cry to her for forgiveness and understanding. (Gould, Pg. 240)
Despite the theatrical success of his early plays, Tennessee Williams static view of the world caused him to exploit familiar material leading to later plays that were repetitive. Williams writing reflects a continual preoccupation with the same themes, the same kinds of characters. (Weales, Pg. 19) Because of his life experience s, the only things in Williams plays are his references to the people he has meet in his life and the experience with them.
All of Williams protagonists and many of his subsidiary characters are outsiders, unable or unwilling to conform to the dull of cruel world in which they find themselves… (Weales, Pg. 20)
For example, in Williams play, The Glass Menagerie, the character, Laura, is directly related to the other Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire. This is so because Laura is living in her dream world in which she is different. Also Blanche is in her world, because she is afraid of telling the truth to others or even to herself. Another example, are Jim from Glass Menagerie and Stanley from Streetcar. Both of them are emissaries from the real world, but Jim is a much nicer one than Stanley is.
Two other important identification marks for the Williams outsiders are their physical and mental sicknesses and their preoccupation with sex. (Weales, Pg. 25)
The only play Williams made in which sex has no part of it was Glass Menagerie. But his later plays were full of sexual smorgasbord. (Weales, Pg.25) Williams was obsessed in using sex in too different ways; the most used is desperation sex, rape, and homosexuality. This is seen in his play, Streetcar with Blanches sex obsession and how Stanley rapes her. Williams plays are also full of symbols, which mostly include names and objects. His use of significant names…is an attempt to define the characters directly or ironically. (Weales, Pg.35) Laura s Glass Menagerie, is his most famous symbol.
In conclusion, Williams life has a great influence on his literature and his writing style. Even though some of his work is repetitive, it is so because he views his life in different ways, which revolve around one basic theme his family relations and the setting. If Williams life wasn t so dramatic, maybe the his literature wouldn t have been viewed in so many ways by so many people. Williams is a good playwright because of his repetitive manner but also it allows people to see the same situation in different perspectives incase it is not understood clearly.