Tennessee Williams Essay Research Paper Everything in

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Tennessee Williams Essay, Research Paper Everything in his life is in his plays, and everything in his plays is in his life, Elia Kazan said of Tennessee Williams. Williams, who is considered to be the greatest Southern playwright, inserted many of his own personal experiences into his writing, because he found no other means of expressing things that seemed to demand expression (Magill 1087). He stated that his primary sources of inspiration for his works were his family, the South, and the multiple writers he encountered in his life. Therefore, he presented American theatergoers with unforgettable characters, an incredible vision of life in the South, and a deeper meaning of the concept he called poetic realism (Classic Notes 1). Poetic Realism exists as the repeated use of

everyday objects, so that they would produce a symbolic meaning. Often, Tennessee Williams writing was considered to be melodramatic and hysterical; however, it is the haunting and powerful life experiences included in Williams writing that makes him one of the greatest playwrights in the history of the American drama. Thomas Lanier Williams began his life March 26, 1911 as the second child of Cornelius and Edwina Williams. His father, Cornelius, managed a shoe warehouse and was a stern businessman. Cornelius bouts with drinking and gambling (habits that Tennessee later inherited) made him increasingly abusive as Tennessee grew older. Tennessee, his mother, his older sister, Rose, and his younger brother, Walter, lived with Tennessee s maternal grandparents until 1918, when his

father was transferred to his firm s main office in St. Louis. Although, he began living with his father at age seven, his father remained emotionally absent throughout his life. His mother, however, smothered Tennessee with her aggressive showings of affection. The move to St. Louis was shattering to Tennessee, Rose, and Edwina. The change from a small, provincial town to a big city was very difficult for the lower class family. Because of the ridicule from other children, her father s abuse, and her mother s unhappiness, Rose was destined to spend most of her life in mental institutions and she quickly became emotionally and mentally unstable. Edwina allowed Rose s doctor to perform a frontal lobotomy on Rose; this event greatly disturbed Williams who cared for Rose throughout

most of her adult life. Tennessee remained aloof from his younger brother, because his father repeatedly favored Walter over both of the older children. His parents often engaged in violent arguments and Tennessee, Rose, and Walter repeatedly encouraged their mother to leave their abusive father. Williams family life was full of tension and despair; however, he said he found therapy in writing. Unable to bear his life at home, Tennessee began his lifelong wanderings. In 1931, he enrolled in the University of Missouri where he saw a production of Ibsen s Ghosts and he decided to become a playwright. His journalism program was interrupted; however, when his father forced him to withdraw from college to work with him at the International Shoe Company. His family no longer could

afford to send him to college and his help was needed to pay bills. He was an employee for his father for two years; he despised the job and considered it to be indescribable torment. However, he considered the job very valuable, because it gave him first-knowledge of what it means to be a small wage-earner in a hopelessly routine job (Magill 1087). Since he was working by day and writing by night, Williams health gradually decreased and he had a nervous breakdown. He recovered at the home of his grandparents and continued to write. Once recovered, he went back to school and graduated from the University of Iowa in 1938. At the University of Iowa, Williams earned his bachelor s degree and his nickname, Tennessee. A college roommate jokingly compared Williams heritage to a