The Glass Meangere Essay Research Paper Thesis

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The Glass Meangere Essay, Research Paper Thesis: The outcasts in Tennessee Williams’s major plays suffer, not because of the acts or situations which make them outcasts but because of the destructive effect of conventional morality upon them. More than a half century has passed since critics and theater-goers recognized Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) as an important–perhaps the most important–American playwright. Two recent events, however, have created renewed interest in his work. The first is the death in 1996 of Maria St. Just, who controlled the late playwright’s papers1. The second is the publication, in that same year, of Lyle Leverich’s Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams. Both events represent access to information about this playwright that has,

heretofore, been unavailable to scholars an influx of so much new information that a reexamination of Williams’s work is not only possible, but necessary. My dissertation will reexamine Williams’s work in light of his claim that “plays in the tragic tradition offer us a view of certain moral values in violent juxtaposition” (The Rose Tattoo 151). Williams’s plays outline a struggle between the moral values of non-conformists, who are outcasts because they can not, or will not, conform to the values of the dominant culture, and of conformists, who represent that culture. The outcast characters in Tennessee Williams’s major plays do not suffer because of the actions or circumstances that make them outcast but because of the destructive impact of conventional morality

upon them. The outcasts are driven, in the conflict between their values and those of conventional morality, to: 1) confess their transgressions against conventional morality, and 2) suffer, at their own hands or by placing themselves in dangerous situations, in atonement for their non-conformity. That Williams’s outcasts are miserable is evidence of his opinion that the demands of conventional morality can be destructive. Chapter One of my dissertation will provide a foundation for discussion of this argument. Chapters Two, Three, and Four will contain extensive examples from Williams’s plays in support of his statement that “…I have only one major theme for my work which is the destructive impact of society on the sensitive non-conformist individual” (Letter, 1939, to

Audrey Wood)1. I will further distinguish between three types of outcasts–religious, sexual, and fugitive and will devote a chapter to examples from Williams’s plays that illustrate the juxtaposition of values within each of these three types. In my final chapter I will argue against the notion that Williams’s outcasts suffer because they are immoral. Chapter One: “”More a Minister’s Son’: An Introduction to Tennessee Williams” I deal with the decadence of the South. I don’t ever deal with the decadence of the North. It’s too disgusting. But I’m writing about a South that is fast becoming a memory. (Williams, in Haller 60) This chapter will provide biographical and critical information about Tennessee Williams. Using personal interviews with the

playwright’s brother, Dakin Williams, and with biographer Nancy Tischler, along with published scholarship and accounts, I will reveal that the playwright considered himself an outcast and that his outcast characters represent an attempt to prove that “outcast” and “immoral” are not mutually inclusive terms. I will also show that Williams’s over-arching motivation, his drive to reveal in his plays the suffering inflicted on non-conformists by the dominant culture, is a reflection of his personal experiences with family, friends, and society. Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams was born to Cornelius and Edwina Dakin Williams on March 26, 1914, in Columbus, Mississippi. At age 12, Williams and his family (which included a brother, Dakin, and sister, Rose) moved to