Tennessee Williams: His Life In &Quot;Suddenly Last Summer&Quot; And &Quot;The Glass Menagerie&Quot;

3627 words - 15 pages

In the study of Tennessee Willliams' plays: "Suddenly Last Summer" and "The Glass Menagerie", we can find a great deal of autobiographical connections. "The Glass Menagerie" is particularly considered the author's most biographical work. It is described by the playwright as "a memory play"; indeed, it is a memory of the author's own youth, an expression of his own life and experiences. Similarly, "Suddenly Last Summer" includes many of Tennesse Williams' real life details.

First and foremost, this analysis is going to be focused on the families of both plays since these families are undoubtedly connected, particularly the Wingfield family, with Tennesse Willimas' family. Thus, in "The Glass Menagerie", Tennesse Williams is writing about his absent father, his domineering mother, his sensitive sister, and of course about himself. Similarly, Sebastian Venable in "Suddenly Last Summer" can be identified in many aspects with Tennesse Williams himself. Secondly, Mrs. Venable, who seeks to silence her niece by brain surgery, can be identified in this way with Tennesse Williams's mother. Finally, Catherine, and particularly the idea of lunacy and the threat of a lobotomy are related to Tennesse Willliams' sister.

Now, I am going to analyze all these mentioned autobiographical connections in detail. To begin with, the absence of the father is appreciated in "Suddenly Last Summer" and in "The Glass Menagerie" as well as in Tennesse Williams' life. Tennesse Williams' father was a relevant influence on his life. He was a traveling salesman who despised his son as a "sissy" who caused Tenesse Williams inferiority complex and shyness to mix with other boys. His personal troubles would increase with his father's decision of moving from Mississippi, representative of his happiest days of his childhood in the "Deep South", to the mid Western city of St. Louis. By the way, St. Louis is another biographical element, portrayed in "The Glass Menagerie" as "that cold northern city" (pp. 233), a place of isolation for both the narrator and the author of the play. It is opposite to the grace and elegance of the Old South which is a great influence on his work and life, Tennesse Williams asserted: "I assure you that the South is the country of my heart as well as my birth" (1: Holditch/ Leavitt, "Tennesse Williams and the South", pp 88), reflecting his deep love for the South. This change in Williams's life meant the end of the Southern idyll and the beginning of a new but unhappy time which would be marked by the isolation and internal conflicts. Later, his father withdrew him from the University and pushed him onto the warehouse of a shoe company where he felt miserable and frustrated as an artist. Similarly, Tom Wingfield, Tennesse Williams himself, works in a shoe company even though he hates it. Both Tennesse Williams and Tom Wingfield are tormented by the conflict between the desire to live one's own life and the responsibility for one's family. They feel...

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