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A Streetcar Named Desire

by Tennessee Williams

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What metaphor does Williams use to explain his life before success in his intro to A Streetcar Named Desire?

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Williams compares his life before the success of his first big hit, "The Glass Menagerie," to a mountain climber, one who must scale the rocky surface of life in an animal-like fight for survival:

"The sort of life I lived previous to this popular success was one that required endurance, a life of clawing and scratching along the sheer surface and holding on tight with raw fingers to every inch of rock higher than the one caught hold of before, but it was a good life because it was the sort of life for which the human organism was created.

I was not aware of how much vital energy had gone into this struggle until the struggle was removed. I was out on a level plateau with my arms still thrashing and my lungs still grabbing at air that no longer existed. This was security at last."

However, Williams soon tired of his success and longed for the thrill of the "climb" though such a return is impossible. Later in the essay, he writes, "You cannot arbitrarily say to yourself, I will now continue my life as it was before this thing. Success happened to me. But once you fully apprehend the vacuity of life without struggle you are equipped with the basic means of salvation."

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