The Portrayal Of Women In The Work Of Tennessee Williams

2377 words - 10 pages

Portrayal of Women in The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Orpheus Descending, Suddenly Last Summer, and Period of Adjustment

Tennessee Williams has become one of the most well known literary figures in modern America. His plays are often controversial because of his preoccupation with sex and violence and his fearlessness to probe the dark areas of human life. Williams's earlier work often inspired his later plays and basic character types often reappear throughout each of his plays. A reoccurring theme in each of his plays is the role of the female. The women featured in the plays of Tennessee Williams all suffer from physical or emotional mutilation and seek fulfillment from a mate.

An influential factor in Tennessee Williams's writing was his own personal experience. The Glass Menagerie is a play that originated in the memory of the author. Williams drew heavily on his own family experiences, describing the lives of his mother, sister, and himself. Many aspects of the play resemble some of Williams's past experiences during childhood. The apartment that Amanda, Laura, and Tom Wingfield share is in the middle of the city, and it is among many dark alleys with fire escapes. Tom and Laura do not like the dark atmosphere of their living conditions, and their mother tries to make it as pleasant as possible. This apartment is almost a mirror image of one of the apartments that the Williams family lived in St. Louis, Missouri (American Writers IV). Amanda Wingfield is a typical Southern belle who fantasizes about her seventeen gentlemen callers back in Blue Mountain. She regularly attends meetings of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), which are important outlets for her social activities. Amanda believes that Laura needs to have some gentlemen callers visiting their apartment because she does not want Laura to become an old, unmarried spinster. Williams's mother, Edwina, had also been accepted into the Daughters of the American Revolution, and she was occupied with social events (Griffin 520). Williams described his mother as a "woman whose endurance and once fine qualities continued to flourish alongside a narrowness of perception and only the dimmest awareness of human feeling" (Griffin 121). Amanda easily mirrors this description of Edwina because of her selfishness concerning Laura and her being unattached. Laura Wingfield is very shy and does not want to be involved with the world outside their apartment. She collects tiny glass animals, and she treasures them more than actually participating in daily contact with the public. Amanda enrolls her in business school so that Laura will have some sort of trade with which she will be able to support herself in the future, but Laura is so shy that she does not attend classes and is eventually dropped from the enrollment. This identical situation happened to Williams' sister Rose. Edwina enrolled her at the Rubicam Business College, hoping she...

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