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In What Ways Does Tennessee Williams Challenge The Conventions Of Naturalistic Theatre In The Glass Menagerie In Order To Develop His Main Themes?

1346 words - 6 pages

Tennessee Williams describes his play, "The Glass Menagerie" as a "memory play presented with unusual freedom from convention." The glass menagerie combines naturalistic and expressionistic elements as it was written at a point of transition between the two different dramatic periods. In the production notes, Williams describes expressionism in The Glass Menagerie as "a closer approach to truth". By this he meant the truth about life and reality. He uses different expressionistic devices such as irony to put across the themes of the play; escape, reality and memory.The Glass Menagerie shows influences of both expressionism and naturalism because Tennessee Williams was greatly influenced by ...view middle of the document...

It is a revolt against realism.Eugene O'Neill (an expressionistic writer) challenged naturalistic theatre.In many ways The Glass Menagerie fits the conventions of naturalistic theatre. It uses everyday language and the setting and scenery is ordinary, American and contemporary. The subject matter is that of real life - wanting to escape, and family life. There are only soliloquies and asides from Tom and no other characters.Williams' depiction of speech is realistic, and Amanda's use of language reveals that she is frustrated with her son Tom, "and chew, chew!" She uses this minor sentence to emphasise her point and show her frustration. It shows how she always wants to be in control of her children. She uses the ellipsis, "things of importance going on in the world" when she is interrupted by Tom. She is being forceful and enthusiastic - also showing that she can't let go. She uses interjections "You must be joking!" and backtracking, "seventeen gentleman callers!" to try and project her youth onto her daughter's and to show her surprise at her daughter not being as popular and flirtatious as she was. She shows that her life is un-fulfilled, as she always has to refer to the past. Amanda uses racist remarks such as "I'll be the darkey" which shows her lack of education, as do the use of clichés, "turned up their toes to the daisies". These don't show intelligence and are annoying. It shows that she is quite superficial.I think Williams made his play very naturalistic because people can relate to naturalism easier than they can to expressionism, and I think he was able to put across the themes of the play, and his points about reality better in a naturalistic play.In the production notes, Williams criticises naturalism or what he calls "the photographic in art". He uses expressionistic devices throughout the play - the narrator, fire escape, stage directions, the transparent fourth wall, and the music and screen devices.The narrator is a non-naturalistic convention because as said in the introduction to scene 1, "the narrator is an undisguised convention of the play. He takes whatever license with the dramatic convention is convenient to his purposes." The transparent fourth wall and the gauze portieres were used in naturalistic theatre to give the audience the feeling of watching the characters as if they were a fly on the wall. Williams challenges this convention because he uses it as an expressionistic device by raising it at the beginning of the play and then lowering it at the end - during Tom's speech. The audience are able to look into the lives of the characters. The portieres reflect the themes of memory because they are used when a character is talking about the past.The fire escape appears to be naturalistic, but is highly symbolic...

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