Tennessee Williams Drama Analysis
If the weight of critical opinion places Tennessee Williams below Eugene O’Neill as America’s premiere dramatist, there should be no question that the later playwright is without peer either in the diversity of genres in which he wrote or his impact on the cultural consciousness of mid-twentieth century America. In the course of his long career, Williams wrote essays; letters; memoirs; music lyrics; original screenplays, including that for the controversial Baby Doll; poetry; short stories; and novels, one of which, the bittersweet The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, was made into a major motion picture. However, it is as a playwright that Williams’s genius shines most brightly, particularly from the early 1940’s to the early 1960’s, a period comprising The Glass Menagerie, Summer and Smoke, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Rose Tattoo, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Orpheus Descending, Suddenly Last Summer, Sweet Bird of Youth, and The Night of the Iguana. These plays encompass an unrelenting exploration of the dark underbelly of human experience: frigidity and nymphomania, impotence and rape, pedophilia and fetishism, cannibalism and coprophagy, alcohol and drug addiction, castration and syphilis, violence and madness, and aging and death. These themes place Williams squarely in the gothic tradition and reflect his early interest in the bizarre and grotesque. As a child he...
(The entire section is 8685 words.)
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