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Essay on The Glass Menagerie and the Life of Tennessee Williams

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The Glass Menagerie and the Life of Tennessee Williams


The Glass Menagerie closely parallels the life of the author. From the very job Tennessee held early in his life to the apartment he and his family lived in. Each of the characters presented, their actions taken and even the setting have been based on the past of Thomas Lanier Williams, better known as Tennessee Williams.

Donald Spoto described the new apartment building that Williams and his family relocated to in St. Louis, Missouri as having only two small windows, one window in the front of the apartment and another in the rear.  A fire escape blocked the smoky light that might have come in from the window facing the back alley (16).   In The Glass Menagerie, the apartment was described as facing an alley. Meyer brought to my attention that the entrance to the apartment was actually a fire escape. There was no front door in the apartment of The Glass Menagerie, only a fire escape to enter and exit through (1865).   This omission of a front door represents the feeling that Tennessee Williams had that he could not leave his family and strike out on his own in a normal fashion as most children do. Tennessee Williams felt that he had to literally escape in order to follow his own dream of writing as Tom too felt in the play. John Fritscher points out in his dissertation that Tennessee and Tom both were torn between their mother's interpretation of responsibility and their own instinct (5).

Tom Wingfield, the narrator of the play, is representative of Tennessee Williams himself, down to them sharing the same first name. Tennessee Williams did not earn his nickname until his college days at the University of Missouri (Meyer 1864).   Both Tom and Tennessee William...


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...ed his world and his experiences of it in whatever form seemed suitable to the material. (Kahn)

 

Works Cited:

Cook, Sharon. "Permission to Quote Me." E-mail to author. 2 Apr. 1999

Fritscher Ph.D., John J. Love And Death In Tennessee Williams Diss.1967: Loyola University Library. Internet 1999. Available: jackfritscher.com/tennessee

Kahn, Sy. Modern American Drama: Essays in Criticism. Edited by Willima E. Taylor. Deland, Florida. Everette/Edwards Inc., 1968. 71-88

Spoto, Donald. The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams. Boston: Little, Brown and Co.,1985

Tischler, Nancy M. Tennessee Williams: Rebellious Puritan. New York: The Citadel Press, 1965.

Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Writing, Thinking. 5th ed. Ed. Michael Meyer. Boston: Bedford, 1999. 1865-190


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