Tennessee Williams Essay
Thomas Lanier, also known as Tennessee Williams, was an American writer who worked principally as a playwright in the American Theatre. Also he wrote essays, short stories, poetry, screenplays, and novels with also a volume of memoirs. Tennessee’s professional career lasted about 45 years until his death in 1983. Williams saw the birth of hundreds of plays that are considered to be classics on the American stage. Tennessee Williams was an important American playwright who tied in his personal life into his writings, and used women over men in his play, and comparing his work to the other authors.
Tennessee Williams used events that happened in his personal life to help him with his writings. He used this in his writings by having the characters getting hurt in the plays just like he did. For example in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Maggie becomes increasingly more self-conscious as she is again and again refused by her husband. “Williams’s objective was to create humane freedom out of the ashes of experience” (Skloot). This is saying that Tennessee Williams is trying to create freedom for everybody through his works, because he does not want people to have to go through what he had to.
Another character that gets hurt to show how his life was is Blanche Dubois from A Streetcar Named Desire. She is so opposed of her past that she chooses to invent a history for herself with the intention of subverting reality. “That of climbing out of an abyss is appropriate in its description of his view of the human condition” (Skloot). Tennessee describes his own situation as a life of clawing and scratching along a sheer surface and holding on tight with raw fingers to every inch of rock higher than the one caught hold of before, but it was a good life because it was the sort of life for which the human organism is created. This is a perfect comparison between the life of Tennessee Williams and Blanche because of Blanche’s past and how she wanted to go back and change it.
Williams would tie in his writings about his family life and personal experiences into the works. His sister, Rose, illness may have contributed to his alcoholism and his dependence on various combinations of amphetamines and barbiturates. “Everything in his life is in his plays, and everything in his plays is in his life” (Loney). In the Glass Menagerie there is a resemblance between Tennessee and the main character, Tom. And he had a disabled sister name Laura and they had a controlling mother named Amanda. This is a mirror image of Tennessee Williams life.
William’s father was a heavy drinker and his loudly turbulent behavior caused them to move numerous times around the city. “Cornelius Williams was a man with a violent tempers, and was prone to use his fist” (Adler). Tennessee Williams used the play Glass Menagerie to show how his father was. The father in the play was very violent and was a drunk. He was mean to his children and his wife. This is also a mirror image of how Tennessee Williams tied used real life events to tie into his writings.
Williams loved to have the presence of women over men in his works. The presence of women over men in his works helped him make remarkable plays because he could relate to the women and their life. One of the ways he could relate to them was how women struggled to make relationships with men who are unable or unwilling to make lasting relationships. “In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Maggie and Brick presumably had a satisfactory sexual relationship early in their marriage. Problems began to develop, however, when Maggie decided that Brick’s close friendship with Skipper indicated homosexual tendencies” (Blackwell). this relates to Tennessee because he thought he had found the right partner for him and in the end problems would develop and it would end. This happened a lot in Tennessee Williams relationships. It started from the time he was with one of his first partners, Fred Melton, till the day he died. So Williams did this so he could relate to his personal life.
Another reason Tennessee Williams choose to have the presence of women over men in his works was because women who have known happiness, but who have lost their mates and who try to overcome the loss. “The Princess Kosmonopolis in Sweet Bird of Youth (1959) is an aging actress who has known happiness with a lover and popularity with audiences. After losing both, she failed in a come- back effort as actress and embarked upon a search for another lover who could return her to reality” (Blackwell). This happened to Tennessee Williams almost every time he ended a relationship with his partner. He would fail at a comeback for his lover, and it would fail, and then would go out and find another partner to be with.
Women were used more because of the unusual perception of women has let Williams display his talent. Women who have learned to be maladjusted through adjustment to abnormal family relationships which have strived to break through their bondage in order to find a mate. “Blanche DuBois of A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) was a dutiful child, remaining with her aged parents long beyond the marrying age for most women and later staying behind to try to save the family estate, while her sister, Stella, went out to find her place in the world. Since Blanche had adjusted to an abnormal family life, she was unable, when she had the opportunity, to relate to the so-called normal world of her sister” (Blackwell). Tennessee Williams was like this because he was so caught up in trying to pursue his career as a writer and would always end out of place and couldn’t find hid place in the world. This also happened when he would split from his partner because he was so into the person and would be lost when they would split.
The last reason why Tennessee Williams choose to use women in his works more than men was because women who have subordinated themselves to a domineering and often inferior person in an effort to attain reality and meaning through communication with another person. “In Period of Adjustment (1960), Dotty Bates will tolerate insult and abuse from her husband Ralph, so long as their sexual relationship is satisfying” (Blackwell). Tennessee Williams life as a young man was like this. His father was very abusive and insulting to him. But he would be happy if his sexual relationship was satisfying with his partner. Williams’s father abused him for most of his life, and he would talk about that in his writings because he could relate to how if felt and make the audience feel his pain.
Tennessee Williams was always listening to what the critics were saying and then would make sure to make his work better. “His writing had taken a new direction, that he had been developing a new kind of dramaturgy” (Loney). Even though the critics and audience failed to appreciate his new works and the style they were written. After all of this happened he fell into deep depression and had to be hospitalized. And when he was being hospitalized, that caused him to start becoming addicted to amphetamines. But this did not hurt his reputation for being the best American playwright.
When he listened to the critics, this placed him up on a pedestal for being a talented playwright, screenwriter, short story writer and a novelist. “A Streetcar Named Desire, in 1947, secured his reputation as a great playwright” (Loney). This wasn’t the only play he writes that put him to the top of the list for playwrights. Glass Menagerie and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof also helped him get there. Because of the way the critics reviewed him only helped Tennessee Williams produce better plays. If the critics didn’t do what they did, we might not have the Tennessee Williams that we know today.
Tennessee Williams was great at building friendships with other authors. They would help each other with their works. Adrienne Kennedy chose to be a playwright after seeing one of Tennessee Williams works, Glass Menagerie. “Kennedy’s fascination with Williams continued, especially with Streetcar” (Kolin). At the time her and Tennessee met, she had become fascinated with his work and ended up basing her work off his. Before they had a relationship with each other, she admits that she was intimidated of him and of his works. When they met, he told her she didn’t have any reason to ad he was there to help her on anything he needed.
Adrienne Kennedy eventually used is works as a guideline for her works and then tried to imitate his works. “She was very much in awe of Tennessee Williams at the time and so I imitated him” (Kolin). Before their friendship was started, she attended workshops at a local university on the reflection of Williams plays. She then met him at the Actors studio and their relationship boomed after they left from there. That is what has helped Adrienne Kennedy get to where she is today, by meeting Tennessee Williams.
One of the great American playwright, Tennessee Williams, has produced some of the best works we will ever see. Even though his professional career only lasted 45 years, his works are still being used all over the world. Tennessee Williams was an important American playwright who tied in his personal life into his writings, and used women over men in his plays, and he compared his works to the other authors and critics. Williams will always be one the greatest American playwright in history.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 19 October 2016
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