Essay on Downfall and Denial in Streetcar Named Desire and Glass Menagerie

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Downfall and Denial in Streetcar Named Desire and Glass Menagerie

Tennessee Williams allows the main characters in the plays, A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie, to live miserable lives, which they first try to deny and later try to change. The downfall and denial of the Southern gentlewoman is a common theme in both plays. The characters, Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire and Amanda from The Glass Menagerie are prime examples. Blanche and Amanda have had, and continue to have, many struggles in their lives. The problem is that Williams never lets the two women work through these problems and move on. The two ladies are allowed to destroy themselves and Williams invites the audience to watch them in the process (Stine 474).

The downfall, denial, and need to change of the two women are all quite evident in these two plays. First the troubles of Blanche and Amanda need to be recognized. Blanche has apparently had practice hiding her drinking problem. When she arrives at Stella’s home, she sneaks a shot of whiskey (Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire, Scene1. Page 18. Lines 12-17). When she is later offered a drink, she acts as though she has no idea where the alcohol is kept (Williams, A.S.N.D. 1.19.12-15). Amanda cannot accept the fact that no gentlemen callers are coming for Laura, her daughter, thus making that reality more difficult for Laura to accept (Williams, The Glass Menagerie, 1.28.1-5). Neither Blanche nor Amanda allows herself to recognize her problems and work them out. They both deny the existence of these problems, thereby enabling their difficulties to become larger and even more complicated. When Stella offers Blanche a second drink, Blanche states, "One's m...

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...Blanche and Amanda. Tennessee Williams wrote very similar plays along common themes, plays that both disturbed and aroused sympathy for the characters as well as the real life counterparts that they represented.

Works Cited

Baym, Nina et al, eds. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1995.

Hassan, William. Tennessee Williams: Parallels in Frustation. Boston: Cambridge University Press, 1979.

Krutch, Joseph Wood. Modernism in Modern Drama. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1953.

Stine, Daniel. Tennessee Williams: An Interpretation. Chicago: University Press, 1977.

Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. New York: Signet, 1947.

Williams, Tennessee. Anthology of American Literature: From Realism to the Present. Ed. McMichael, George et al. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2000.

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