The Rise and Demise of Tennessee Williams

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Tennessee Williams is a well-known American playwright whose works have inspired the very essence of fiction. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest playwrights of twentieth-century American drama. One of the most intriguing facets of his best works is how he blends his own life experiences into them (Spoto, 171). One of his well-received novels, ‘The Glass Menagerie (1944),’ made Williams famous. He meticulously touches on his personal gloom and grief in this book. Similarly, all the characters of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire (1947)’, one of his finest works, carry some of the personal attributes and experiences of the author which makes him more sophisticated towards his literary output. The character of Blanche DuBois explains a lot about the author’s personal life and knowledge. His experiences offered a better stand to produce an in-depth illustration of every episode related to Blanche DuBois’s life, giving her a more comprehensive existence. All of this ultimately aids the development of a major theme. It is the inability of Blanche DuBois to overcome the harsh realities with romanticized fantasies.

In ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, Blanche DuBois is a protagonist. She is portrayed as a romantic being who operates as attracted to males. Her interaction with the male characters of the play begins with flirting. The dramatized depiction of DuBois is well characterized by the author. Her fantasies have a very strong relation with her reality. She is pretending to be someone else with fabricated episodes of her past and the present. The author symbolizes her character with that of a psychic being with an inconspicuous behavior (Fischer, Erika, 246)r. She lies about herself to other that makes her life look as if a real one. Her character exposes her hidden intentions towards her appearance for the world like how it should have been rather than how it is. This beautiful characterization of DuBois depicts some part of the authors own life experiences. Her representation is influenced by some of the unintended attributes of the author himself.

The author has illustrated the play as an example of social realism. The relationship between the thematic expression of the play and the reality of the contemporary society during which the play was written including the personal life of the author. Blanche DuBois is illustrated in a very interesting way to depict the manipulated realities of the people around the author. For instance, the character of Stanley would be compared to that of the author’s father – rude and strict.

Blanche DuBois’s illustration is very unique in many aspects. Her attitude towards male characters is not good though she prefers to begin a conversation through flirting. She was expelled from a school for having a sexual relationship with one of her students. Also, she used to have multiple affairs with military people living near her residence. She lied to Mitch about her past and was anticipating a proposal from him. Similarly, she had issues with Stanley and wanted to re-establish her own and her sister’s, Stella, life. The author beautifully establishes an antagonistic relation between Blanche DuBois and Stanley to exemplify a battle between appearances and reality. Such struggle between the dishonesty and honesty exemplifies one more significant thematic expression of the play through the attributes of the characters which are influenced by the personal experiences of the author (Spoto, 175).

Blanche DuBois is a very complex character. She has been portrayed as an aged woman with a strong sexual inclination towards male. Her life is very much screwed with the harsh realities that she has created. She wants to escape from those realities and tried to present herself as an innocent and a sophisticated woman. But, she failed. She could not hide her real being behind her lies and fantasies. At the end she even accounts herself responsible for her husband’s suicide because she condemned his act of homosexuality. The author paints a very interesting dilemma of the DuBois by bestowing duality in her character. She practises dishonesty but fantasizes to be honest in her attitude and actions. “But they’re sweet things! And in the spring, it’s touching to notice them making their first discovery of love! As if nobody had ever known it before!” (Williams 50).

Almost all the literary output of Tennessee Williams embraces the very essence of his own personal experiences. Social realism is a significant characteristic of the author that is very well attributed to the thematic expression of most of his plays especially, A Streetcar Named Desire. Tennessee Williams implements rich literary archetypes to enhance the thematic manifestation of the play. He used particular colours, sounds, and names of both the characters and the places beautifully to facilitate their enriched characterization. The real essence behind the play is very interesting from the context of the author himself. Blanche DuBois is characterized very creatively through the authors own personal experiences. She does not want to expose her reality and pretends to be different person. The author juxtaposed his life through the character of Blanche DuBois. The author’s life has been so much disturbed right from his childhood till his death. May be he also wanted to express himself in a similar way, hiding his reality from others. His way of expressing himself is quite creative. As evident from his literary works, Williams paints his personality and experiences through the characters of his plays. The romanticized fantasies of Blanche DuBois, however, did not help her. She was unable to hide the harsh realities of her life through the fantasies. It is actually the beautiful characterization of the author though his own experiences that he was able to establish a significant thematic expression of the play – the inability of Blanche DuBois to overcome the harsh realities with romanticized fantasies.

Works cited

Spoto, Donald. The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press, 1997, p. 171-175

Fischer, Heinz-Dietrich & Erika J. Fischer. The Pulitzer Prize Archive: A History and Anthology of Award-Winning Materials in Journalism, Letters, and Arts München: K.G. Saur, 2008. p. 246

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

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