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Tennessee Williams Essay, Research Paper

Everything in his life is in his dramas, and everything in his dramas is in his life,

Elia Kazan said of Tennessee Williams. Williams, who is considered to be the

greatest Southern dramatist, inserted many of his ain personal experiences

into his authorship, because he found no other agencies of showing things that

seemed to demand look ( Magill 1087 ) . He stated that his primary

beginnings of inspiration for his plants were his household, the South, and the multiple

authors he encountered in his life. Therefore, he presented American

playgoers with unforgettable characters, an unbelievable vision of life in the

South, and a deeper significance of the construct he called poetic pragmatism ( Authoritative

Notes 1 ) . Poetic Realism exists as the repeated usage of mundane objects, so

that they would bring forth a symbolic significance. Often, Tennessee Williams

authorship was considered to be melodramatic and hysterical ; nevertheless, it is the

haunting and powerful life experiences included in Williams composing that makes

him one of the greatest dramatists in the history of the American play.

Thomas Lanier Williams began his life March 26, 1911 as the 2nd

kid of Cornelius and Edwina Williams. His male parent, Cornelius, managed a shoe

warehouse and was a austere man of affairs. Cornelius bouts with imbibing and

gaming ( wonts that Tennessee subsequently inherited ) made him progressively abusive

as Tennessee grew older. Tennessee, his female parent, his older sister, Rose, and

his younger brother, Walter, lived with Tennessee s maternal grandparents until

1918, when his male parent was transferred to his house s chief office in St. Louis.

Although, he began populating with his male parent at age seven, his male parent remained

emotionally absent throughout his life. His female parent, nevertheless, smothered

Volunteer state with her aggressive screenings of fondness. The move to St. Louis

was shattering to Tennessee, Rose, and Edwina. The alteration from a little,

provincial town to a large metropolis was really hard for the lower category household. Because

of the ridicule from other kids, her male parent s maltreatment, and her female parent s

sadness, Rose was destined to pass most of her life in mental establishments

and she rapidly became emotionally and mentally unstable. Edwina allowed

Rose s doctor to execute a frontal leukotomy on Rose ; this event greatly disturbed

Williams who cared for Rose throughout most of her grownup life. Tennessee

remained aloof from his younger brother, because his male parent repeatedly favored

Walter over both of the older kids. His parents frequently engaged in violent

statements and Tennessee, Rose, and Walter repeatedly encouraged their

female parent to go forth their opprobrious male parent. Williams household life was full of tenseness and

desperation ; nevertheless, he said he found therapy in authorship.

Unable to bear his life at place, Tennessee began his lifelong

rovings. In 1931, he enrolled in the University of Missouri where he saw a

production of Ibsen s Ghosts and he decided to go a dramatist. His

news media plan was interrupted ; nevertheless, when his male parent forced him to

withdraw from college to work with him at the International Shoe Company. His

household no longer could afford to direct him to college and his aid was needed to

wage measures. He was an employee for his male parent for two old ages ; he despised the occupation

and considered it to be indefinable torture. However, he considered the occupation

really valuable, because it gave him first-knowledge of what it means to be a

little wage-earner in a hopelessly everyday occupation ( Magill 1087 ) . Since he was

working by twenty-four hours and authorship by dark, Williams wellness bit by bit decreased and

he had a nervous dislocation. He recovered at the place of his grandparents

and continued to compose. Once recovered, he went back to school and graduated

from the University of Iowa in 1938. At the University of Iowa, Williams earned

his unmarried man s grade and his moniker, Tennessee. A college roomie

jestingly compared Williams heritage to a Tennessee innovator and Williams

found his ain important significance behind it. He said the Williamses had fought

the Indians for Tennessee and I had already discovered the life of a younger

author was traveling to be something similar to the defence of a stockade against a

set of barbarians ( Magill 1088 ) . During this clip, Tennessee produced a few of

his ain dramas locally. His work attracted the involvement of of import literary agent,

Audrey Wood, and helped him to have grants. Therefore, In 1940, Tennessee

produced his first full-length, professional drama, Battle of Angels, and failed

miserably. After his licking in Chicago, Tennessee moved to New Orleans where

he launched his calling as a author.

His move to New Orleans presented a enormous turning point in his life ;

he had a new name, a new place, and a promising endowment. By 1944, he was a

knock hit on Broadway with The Glass Menagerie and he had won that twelvemonth s

New York Critics Circle, Donaldson, and Sidney Howard Memorial Awards. In

1947, he was the first dramatist to have the Pulitzer Prize, the New York

Critics Circle Award, and the Donaldson Award in the same twelvemonth for A Streetcar

Named Desire. In the class of his calling, Williams accumulated four New York

Drama Critics Awards ; three Donaldson Awards ; a Tony Award for his 1951

screenplay, The Rose Tattoo ; the Brandeis University Creative Arts Award

( 1965 ) ; a Medal of Honor from the National Arts Club ( 1975 ) ; the $ 11,000

Commonwealth Award ( 1981 ) ; and an honorary doctor’s degree from Harvard

University ( 1982 ) . He was honored by President Carter at Kennedy Center in

1979, and named Distinguished Writer in Residence at the University of British

Columbia, Vancouver, in 1981. He besides wrote over 30 full-length dramas,

legion short dramas, two volumes of poesy, and five volumes of poesy and

short narratives.

Success enabled Tennessee to go and purchase a place in Key West, a

new topographic point to which Williams could get away for both relaxation and authorship.

Around this clip, Williams met Frank Merlo. They fell in love and Merlo existed

as Williams romantic spouse until Merlo s prematurely decease.

When Merlo died of

lung malignant neoplastic disease in 1961, Tennessee went into a deep depression that lasted 10s

old ages. Merlo had served as a calming influence on Williams, who already

suffered mildly from depression, because he lived in fright that he, like his sister,

would travel insane. The 1960ss brought difficult times for Tennessee Williams. He

had become dependent on drugs, and the job merely grew worse after the

decease of his spouse. Williams was besides insecure about his work, which was

sometimes of inconsistent quality, and he was violently covetous of younger

dramatists. Williams subsequently dramas were non considered his best, because

overwork and drug usage had taken his toll on him. On February 23, 1983

Tennessee died tragically ; he choked to decease on the plastic top to his oculus

medicine which he perchance misidentify for a sleeping pill. It is a funny

happenstance that his life ended in a topographic point that shared the name of the flat

edifice in which one of his best known characters, Blanche Dubois in A

Streetcar Named Desire, met her nonliteral terminal ( Authoritative Notes 1 ) . He died in

the Elysee Hotel in New York ; the name of her flat was Elysian Fields. It

is appropriate that Tennessee died in a hotel, as this serves as the traditional

oasis of roamers, castawaies, and lone wolfs, instead than in his place at Key West

or in New Orleans. He was buried in St. Louis, in a Catholic Ceremony at the

petition of his brother.

Although Tennessee Williams denied that his authorship was

autobiographical, elements from his life appear often in his work. Because

Tennessee had experienced many struggles with gender, society, and

Christian religion, he besides displayed these struggles in his work. For illustration, The

Glass Menagerie is an autobiographical representation of two yearss in St. Louis.

The drama tells the narrative of Tom, his handicapped sister, and his commanding female parent.

This household state of affairs is really similar to his ain ; nevertheless, he omits his male parent and

younger brother from the narrative. In A Streetcar Named Desire, Williams shows

the world of people s lives. He wrote this drama believing that he was about to

dice ; hence, he wrote what he felt needed to be said. When this drama was foremost

presented, it was considered shocking because of its presentation of sexual

issues. Furthermore, several of Tennessee s dramas contained homosexual

characters. Since the subjects of despair, solitariness, force, irrational

actions are found in his pieces and the bulk of his pieces are set in the

South, Tennessee s plants are frequently considered to be portion of the Southern

Gothic Genre.

Williams had a alone manner of authorship and an advanced technique of

showing his dramas. Williams best dramas are noteworthy for their usage of

impressionistic sound and lighting effects. The earlier dramatist who was the

chief influence on Williams is Anton Chekhov, who is besides noted for his

Impressionism. Tennessee claims the work that had the most influence on him

was that by Fredrico Garcia Lorca, Arthur Rimbaud, Rainer Maria Rilke, Hart

Crane, and D.H. Lawrence. Williams is besides noted for his extreme usage of

force and he is frequently compared to William Faulkner. Williams dramas

often centre on three character types: the gentleman company, normally a

immature adult male, whether gentleman or non, who calls upon a immature adult female ; an

inexperienced person and vulnerable immature adult female ; and a normally tougher and more

experient older adult female. This form is obvious in both The Glass Menagerie

and A Streetcar Named Desire ( Kunitz 2165 ) . Tennessee Williams claimed that

all of his major dramas fit into the memory drama format he described in his

production notes for The Glass Menagerie. The memory drama has a three portion

construction: ( 1 ) a character experiences something profound ; ( 2 ) that experience

causes what Williams footings an & # 8220 ; apprehension of clip, & # 8221 ; a state of affairs in which clip literally

cringles upon itself ; and ( 3 ) the character must re-live that profound experience

( while caught in the apprehension of clip ) until she or he makes sense of it. The chief

subject for his dramas, he claimed, is the negative impact that conventional society

has upon the & # 8220 ; sensitive Nonconformist single & # 8221 ; ( Authoritative Notes 1 ) .

Playwright, poet, and fiction author, Tennessee Williams left a powerful

grade on American Theatre. Not merely did he have multiple awards and

impressive reappraisals, Williams kept the attending of audiences in American and

abroad for many old ages after his decease. On the twenty-four hours of his decease, the New York

flushing documents issued an impressive list of celebrated histrions who have performed

in his dramas ; these include Jessica Tandy, Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor,

Katherine Hephurn, Morlon Brando, and Bette Davis ( 2 ) . Whether one argues

that these histrions were made celebrated by Williams work, or that the quality of his

work attracted the most popular movie and phase performing artists, the connexion

between Williams and these phase legends established Williams as one of the

most of import dramatists in twentieth-century play. The bulk of his

success is due to the fact that he gave audiences a piece of his ain life and a

piece of Southern Culture. Williams stated, Every creative person has a basic premiss

permeating his whole life, and that premiss can supply the urge in everything

he creates. For me the ruling premiss has been the demand for

apprehension, tenderness, and fortitude among persons trapped by

circumstance ( Magill 1089 ) .

Plants Cited

Clarksdale, Edward. Tennessee Williams.

[ hypertext transfer protocol: // ] .

February 1, 2001.

Kunitz. Tennessee Williams. Twentieth Century Writers: A Biographical

Dictionary. 1955.

Magill, Frank. Tennessee Williams. Encyclopedia of World Authors.


Nelson, Benjamin. Tennessee Williams: The Man and His Work. New

York: Obolensky, 1961.

Spoto, Donald. The Kindness Of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee

Williams. New York: Ballantine Books, 1985.

Tennessee Williams. [ hypertext transfer protocol: // World Wide Web. classicnotes/tenn_will/bio ] . February

15, 2001.

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