The Glass Meangere Essay Research Paper Thesis — страница 2

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St. Louis, Missouri. He attended the University of Missouri from 1931 to 1933, and finished his BA. in 1938 at the University of Iowa. The playwright’s mother, a model for Amanda in The Glass Menagerie, was an aggressive woman, devoted to the idea of genteel Southern living. His father, also known as C.C., was a salesman for a large shoe manufacturer and, consequently, traveled extensively. Leverich reports that Edwina filled the void caused by her husband’s absence with stories about the South: Over and over again, she would tell Tom [Tennessee Williams] about garden parties and cotillions and her gentlemen callers, until he could recite the stories by rote. She said that in those days she saw only “the charming, gallant, cheerful side” of the smiling bridegroom who had

been a telephone man “in love with long distance.” In Tom’s mind, these images of his mother once upon a time a young and pretty southern belle whose venturesome husband had deserted her to go on the road–eventually became entangled with perpetually dark apartments, with Rose’s tragic turns, and with his own desperate attempt to free himself from the web of family. (49) Rose is the only other strong female figure in the playwright’s life (Leverich 40). Both Edwina and Rose are the foundation for two characters, Amanda and Laura, respectively, in The Glass Menagerie. According to Leverich, Williams was “more a minister’s son than the son of a traveling salesman” (37). Williams writes that he was tormented by his father because, at age 14, he “would rather read

books in my grandfather’s large and classical library than play marbles and baseball and other normal kid games” (Williams, Where I Live 106). The playwright credits his grandfather with instilling in him a love of books (Leverich 37), that led to writing as escape from the torment of his heterosexist peers (Williams, Sweet Bird of Youth x). Leverich writes that Williams “made every effort to keep the knowledge [of his homosexuality] from his mother in particular”; however, he shared this knowledge with his grandfather, who not only accepted his grandson’s homosexuality but also “enjoyed the gay life peripherally and was especially fond and approving of Williams’s companion, Frank Merlo” (368-369). That Williams feared his mother’s rejection, and confided so

freely in his grandfather, establishes these two persons as extremely important influences in his life.1 Tracing the influences of individuals and circumstances on Williams’s work has been difficult because of the restrictions I mention earlier in this prospectus. Of the existing scholarship the most thorough is that written by Leverich: Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams. The first volume of this two-volume set follows the fortunes of the Williams family for half a century, from 1900 to 19452. As the official Williams biographer, Leverich has been the only scholar to gain access to Williams’s notes and papers held by St. Just. Williams’s brother, Dakin, is a resource that, although not bound by St. Just’s restrictions, has remained largely untapped. Although biographers

and researchers have neglected Dakin Williams,3, I have met and discussed my thesis with him. He has agreed to cooperate with me in my research. The two brothers discussed religion on numerous occasions, and Dakin Williams’s book, Nails of Protest: A Critical Comparison of Modern Protestant and Catholic Beliefs, was (according to the author) extremely influential in the playwright’s conversion to Catholicism4. Nails of Protest is a polemic, a criticism of Protestantism that the author generated while studying law and Church history (Dakin Williams, personal interviews)5. Harry Rasky’s 1986 book, Tennessee Williams: A Portrait in Laughter and Lamentation, is another personalized account of Williams’s life. This work contains priceless and irreplaceable photographs of

Williams in Key West and in New Orleans. The infrequent occasions wherein Rasky sets aside his authorial voice and presents block quotes from Williams are historically valuable, as well. Yet another anecdote-based account of the playwright’s life comes from his mother, Edwina Dakin Williams. Her Remember Me to Tom is a narrative about the youth and career of Tennessee Williams. The book presents stories told by the playwright’s mother to Lucy Freeman, and includes some passages indicating Tennessee Williams’s attitudes toward religion. Also included is a considerable collection of correspondence–from the playwright to his mother and brother, from his grandfather, and to and from several agents and critics1. A very thorough critical work is Judith Thompson’s Tennessee