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Tennessee Williams Essay Example

The playwright, Tennessee Williams, allows the main characters in

the plays A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie to live

miserable lives which they try to deny and later change.  The downfall and

denial of the Southern gentlewoman is a common theme in both plays.

The characters, Blanche from  A.S.N.D. and Amanda from T.G.M., are prime

examples of this concept.  Both Blanche and Amanda have had many

struggles in their lives and go through even more through out the rest of

the plays.  The problem is that Williams never lets the two women work

through and move on from these problems.  The two ladies are allowed to

destroy themselves and he invites us to watch them in the process(Stine

and Marowski 474).  The downfall, denial, and need to change of the two

women is quite evident in these two plays.

First the troubles of Blanche and Amanda need to be recognized.

Blanche hides her drinking problem so well when she arrives and sneaks a

shot of whiskey (William A Streetcar Named Desire,  ,Scene1. Page 18.

Lines 12-17)  that when she is later offered a drink, she acts as though she

has no idea where they keep them (Williams, A.S.N.D. 1.19.12-15).  Amanda

cannot accept that no gentlemen callers are coming for Laura,herdaughter,

thus making it harder for Laura to accept it  (Williams,The Glass Menagerie,

1.28.1-5).  Blanche and Amanda both do not allow themselves to accept

their problems and work them out.  They deny these problems which feeds

them making them larger and even more complicated.  When Stella offered

Blanche a second drink she stated, Ones my limit. (Williams, A.S.N.D.,

1.21.14-15)  Blanche is very self-destructive (Hassan 326).  She is her own

worst enemy because of how she handles her problems.  Amanda

comments at the end of the play that Tom shouldnt think about his poor

mother and sister in a very sarcastic way (Williams, T.G.M., 9.114.1-3).  She

tries to push her problems off on him and not deal with them herself.  By

pushing the blame off on Tom, she feels as though she did nothing wrong

and it is everyone elses fault.  If the two women had just accepted that

they were at fault too and not just everyone else they could have moved

on with their lives.

Both Blanche and Amandas biggest problem is that they deny the

truth.  Blanche denies her drinking problem.  She also denies the fact that

she was a prostitute.  She even made such an unbelievable comment that,

I take for granted that you still have sufficient memeory of Belle Reve to

find this place and these poker players impossible to live with. (Williams,

A.S.N.D., 4.70.1-3)  She denies that she ever sunk lower than Stella when in

truth, she was much worse.  She was the one who lost her job for sleeping

with a seventeen year old and was kicked out of the town for being a slut

by the mayor.  She had the gall to lecture Stella on her choice of men.

You cant have forgotten that much of our up bringing, Stella, that you

just suppose that any part of a gentlemen in his nature! (Williams,

A.S.N.D.,  4.71.13-18)  Blanche speaks to Stella as though it is absolutely

terrible that she married Stanley, of all people, when she slept with more

people than she could even remember.  She shows the do as I say, not as I

do philosophy while though at first, Stella is not even aware of her sisters

past.  Amanda on the other hand, just shrinks poor Lauras self-esteem and

confidence more than it already is by bragging about how she had

seventeen gentlemen callers over one evening when she was Lauras age.
Amanda also refers to her husbands leaving her and her childeren as, he

fell in love with long distances… (Williams, T.G.M., 1.23.28).  She sannot

admit the truth that he just left them.  She cannot even admit to herself

that Laura is crippled, she only refers to her as different.  Also, when

Amanda looks back at her past, she tends to only remember the good

things that happened.  She has blocked out the things that she did not

enjoy and has exaggerated the past to an extent.  At one point in the play,

she brags about her seventeen gentlemen callers Tom, her son, asked her

how she enertained them in which she replies that they had very

interesting conversations because in her day, they understood the art of

conversation (Williams, T.G.M., 1.26.6-8).  She thoughtlessly flaunts her

teenage popularity in front of Laura who would be lucky to have one friend

at all, let alone seventeen gentlemen callers in one evening.  The

conformity of the two womens similarities is uncanny.  Both women have

so many problems, yet they find ways to forget the real problems and

gainsay their way into not dealing with them.  As time in the plays

progress they start to think more about them and realize what needs to be


As both plays near their climaxes, both women start to come to

terms with the truth.  That they need to change.  But, as earlier mentioned,

the playwright makes the audience watch in horror as they only fail at their

attempts to better themselves.  Blanche says, Im going to do something.

Get hold of myself and make myself a new life! (Williams, A.S.N.D.,

11.65.1-3)  She is forced to face the truth when she and Mitch, a man she

went on a couple dates with, discuss her past marriage (Williams, A.S.N.D.,

6.95.26-30) and what became of her husband (Williams, A.S.N.D., 6.96.11-

14).  Mitch even faces her when he finds out about her very tainted past,

he tells her that she lied to him.  She replies that she never lied to him in

her heart (Williams, A.S.N.D., 9.119.1-4).  That was not good enough

though, she never regains the trust of Mitch.  To make matters worse, he

tells her he wants wants what he deserved all along, sex.  Blanches only

hope for happiness is blown away by things that happened in her past.

She is later raped by Stanley, her sisters husband, but is not even believed

when she tells people.  Amanda decides that Laura will probably never

recieve any gentleman callers on her own and she asks Tom to bring

someone home for dinner for Laura.  He ends up bringing home Lauras

high school crush, Jim, which terribly embarasses Laura.  Amanda wants

the best for her childeren but once again, things dont work out.  Jim turns

out to be very sweet and kind to Laura but he is also engaged to another

girl.  Amandas good efforts have awful outcomes.  Laura is devastated and

Tom decides to follow in his fathers footsteps and leave.

[Amanda] is not only disappointed in her efforts to find a husband
for her shy crippled daughter but is, in every way, deleted by a
crude and pushing modernity which neither understands nor

respects her dream of gentility. (Krutch 326)

Both women are left in shambles at the ends of the plays.

In conclusion, Blanche Dubois and Amanda Wingfield live parallel

lives in the plays A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie.   Both

women live sad lives because of the many hard and trying times they have

gone through.  It has been said that they are the same because they both

show attempts of a woman to keep a grasp on her elegant past (Stine and

Marowski 456).  Both women are unsuccessful.  Blanche ends up being

taken to a mental institutionand Amanda is left to deal with her sons

leaving and her daughters broken heart.  By the comparisons mentioned,

we can now recognize the analogus characteristics and lives of Blanche and

Amanda.  Tennessee Williams wrote very similar plays in the aspect of

common themes.  A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie were

very disturbing plays due to the sadness of the lives of characters Blanche

and  Amanda, thus proving the issue of common themes.

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