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Essay on Portrayal of Women in The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire

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Portrayal of Women in The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire

 
    The plays of Tennessee Williams are often controversial because of his preoccupation with sex and violence. Basic female character types often reappear throughout each of his plays. The women featured in the plays, The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire all suffer from physical or emotional mutilation and seek fulfillment from a man.

 

            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...


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...emale characters in The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire. The dependency of Williams's female characters on men is also very evident because they view not having a mate as being a disgrace and a failure. The life experiences of each of Williams's female characters is unique. However, what the characters have in common is an emotional or physical mutilation that they seek to fulfill by finding a suitable mate.

 

Works Cited:

Falk, Signi. Tennessee Williams. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1961.

Spoto, Julius. Understanding Tennessee Williams. New York: Harcort Brace Jovanovich, 1971.

Stanton, Charles. Rethinking Literary Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972.

Tharpe, Jac, ed. Tennessee Williams: A Tribute. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 1980.

"Williams, Tennessee." American Writers. Volume IV 1985.

 


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