Summary: How Does Tennessee Williams Portray Female Characters

Essay details

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

Tennessee Williams reflects real and personal details in his plays, despite the fact that he has been quoted saying: “My chief aim in playwriting is the creation of character. I have always had a deep feeling for the mystery of life, and essentially, my plays have been an effort to explore the beauty and meaning in the confusion of living” , it is widely believed by critics that The Glass Menagerie is pratically autobiographical. When asked about this, Williams also went on to say: “All work is autobiographical if it is serious. Everything a writer produces is his inner history transposed into another time” , Which appears to be an almost contrast to the previous quote as ‘creation of character’ would have us believe that he is not basing his characters off of anyone he knows and is simply creating them to fit in with the story. However, friends of Williams have reported that: The character Amanda Wingfield is an almost exact replica to his mother Edwina Estelle Dakau, Laura reflects his sister Rose, and Tom is based on himself.

Essay due? We'll write it for you!

Any subject

Min. 3-hour delivery

Pay if satisfied

Get your price

The mental instability his mother faces appears to be a recurring concern through a lot of his plays, writing female characters that often appear to be victims, whether it is apparent from the beginning or something happens in the play to make them that way. Lyle Leverich notes how we can see Williams’ desperation to be free’d from the complexity of family disarray, mostly Rose’s deteriorating mental health. He also notes how the playwright uses vivid imagery of a lovely woman with a youthful glow reduced to living in dull and dreary flat due to being abandoned by her husband for a life on the road, all of this can be reflected in the way his mother was made into a victim in Williams’ every day life by his father who would drink in excess and beat his wife. When taking this into consideration it can become easy to see how his relationship with women, especially the way he perceives them, could be tainted into seeing all women as victims and maybe even seeing them as a lesser gender, inspiring and even fuelling his misogyny.

Despite its autobiographical nature, The Glass Menagerie is a combination of fiction and non fiction, a modified version of Williams’ teenage years in regards to living in St. Louis when his father was promoted to managerial status in the business he worked for, the International Shoe Company. This meant the Williams family were forced to relocate to the city which, combined with his fathers abusive nature and his sisters hatred of the new setting that matched his own, caused the playwright to refer to that time as “nine years in limbo”.

The play is set in the 1930s when the climbing of social ladders was impossible and jobs were hard to come by, and if found were hard to keep: “the huge middle class of America was matriculating in a school for the blind. Their eyes had failed them, or they had failed their eyes, and so they were having their fingers pressed forcibly down on the fiery Braille alphabet of a dissolving economy”. During the great depression women made up twenty five percent of workers in the United States, there was a large amount of prejudice against women who had jobs as people saw them as stealing the jobs from men. Women in full time employment had to name themselves “home makers” in order to try and stop people from disapproving of them quite so much, however most men simply weren’t prepared to see women as ‘breadwinners’ for their respective households. This sparked an increase in difficulty for women, the prejudice only growing stronger as well as the stereotype for them to stay in the house and merely cook and clean while the man goes and does all the work, which Amanda appears to be aware of in The Glass Menagerie. 

Get quality help now

Dr. Diane

Verified writer

Proficient in: Sociology of Gender, Literary Genres

4.9 (280 reviews)
“She understood my main topic well and follow the instruction accordingly. She finished the paper in a timely manner! I would definitely hire her again! ”

+75 relevant experts are online

More Essay Samples on Topic

banner clock
Clock is ticking and inspiration doesn't come?
We`ll do boring work for you. No plagiarism guarantee. Deadline from 3 hours.

We use cookies to offer you the best experience. By continuing, we’ll assume you agree with our Cookies policy.