Discuss if Williams presents Laura Wingfield as a tragic heroine.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I am not sure that Williams' intent is to show Laura as a tragic heroine.  On some levels, I think that it can be argued that Laura is the toughest and strongest character in the drama.  Laura is consistently navigating the pitfalls of living between Tom and Amanda.  She is the one who convinces Tom to stay after a particularly heated exchange between son and mother.  Amanda is not someone who is locked into a position of pain and suffering through her own predicament.  She does go out in the world, and finds some level of happiness in it, such as spending time at the zoo.  Laura's nervous condition is not something that Williams uses as a cause for her being a tragic heroine.  She is not like Blanche from A Streetcar Named Desire or like Maggie from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in that she does not seem to be as helpless.  At the end of the drama, she is the one who blows out her own candles, and there is a sense of understanding about her own place in the world, something that would belie Williams' construction of her as a tragic heroine.  While she might not experience the "gentleman callers" that her mother used to, or at least claims to have experienced, Laura does not strike me as a particularly tragic heroine because of her strength and her sense of realization.  Williams constructs her as the only person that can be understood or with whom empathy can be shared in a setting where few others gain it.


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