Tennessee Williams and A Streetcar Named Desire

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Tennessee Williams was born Thomas Lanier Williams in 1911. As a successful playwright, his career was greatly influenced by events in his life. He was noted for bringing the reader "a slice of his own life and the feel of southern culture", as his primary sources of inspiration were "the writers he grew up with, his family, and the South." The connection between his life and his work can be seen in several of his plays. One strong influence that is evident in Tennessee Williams' plays is his family life, which was "full of tension and despair". His father, a businessman who owned a show warehouse, was known for his gambling and drinking habits. He was often engaged with violent arguments with his wife that frightened Tennessee's sister, Rose. Williams cared for Rose most of her adult life, after his mother, Edwina, allowed her to undergo a frontal lobotomy. This event greatly disturbed him. Many people believe that Williams' first commercial success, The Glass Menagerie, was based on his own family relationships. This play tells the story of Tom, his disabled sister, Laura, and their controlling mother, Amanda, who tries to make a match between Laura and a Gentleman caller. The characters seem to resemble the people in Williams' immediate family. Tennessee Williams was also inspired to write by the writers he grew up with. During college, he saw a production of Ibsen's Ghosts, which inspired him to become a playwright. After graduating from the University of Iowa in 1938, he moved to New Orleans to launch his career as a writer. Here he found himself affected by the works of such writers as Arthur Rimbaud, Hart Crane, and D.H. Lawrence. He wrote the play I Rise in Flame, Cried the Phoenix, which dramatized the events surrounding Lawrence's death. He considered it a tribute to a writer he greatly respected and admired. Lastly, Southern culture inspired Tennessee Williams to write one of his most famous plays, A Streetcar Named Desire, as he based his major characters on people he knew or encountered. The character of Stanley Kowalski was based on a good friend of his whom he worked with at the International Shoe Company in the 1930's. He was also inspired by the image of a young woman who had just been stood up by the man she was planning to marry.
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