• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Historical, Social and Cultural context of Tennessee Williams on 'A Streetcar Named Desire'.

Extracts from this document...


Historical, Social and Cultural context of Tennessee Williams on 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. Thomas Lanier Williams (later to be known as Tennessee) was born on March 26th 1911 in Columbus, Mississippi. He was the first of three children. He had a younger brother, and a younger sister named Rose. Their father was a shoe salesman, and their mother was the daughter of a minister. At the age of 14, Williams discovered writing as an escape from reality. This was at a time when Williams felt acutely uncomfortable. His father called him 'Miss Nancy', obviously not believing that a boy would rather read books, rather than play marbles or baseball. In 1929 Williams became a student at the University of Missouri. But during the Great Wall Street Crash Depression (1931-1934) Williams' father insisted he leave university to work in the shoe industry with him. Although Williams held a secure job, he was unhappy and suffered a breakdown. In 1936 Williams once again enrolled at university, this time attending the State University of Iowa. Once Williams had finished university he continued to write, and travelled all over America whilst many of his plays were receiving awards. Tragically on 24th February 1983, Tennessee Williams died, after choking on one of his barbiturates. ...read more.


This could show a conflict between his morality and sexuality, never to be resolved. ? Williams seemed to seek truth and beauty in a violent world. I think this is related to the American Civil War, and World War II as there was so many catastrophic, and historical events happening in a short period of time that he didn't feel the need to mention them in his plays, this gave the audience the ability to forget real life and transport themselves. He tried to bring out the best in people no matter what was happening around them. Social - ? In the period that Williams was in his element, there were also many other successful playwrights. They didn't seem to affect each other though, because they all expressed different qualities. ? Arthur Miller, writer of the Crucible and All My Sons was greatly affected by the events occurring, such as the American Civil War, and World War II, that he mentioned them frequently in his plays. ? Although the writers expressed themselves in what appeared to be completely different styles of writing, they had some similarities. Someone once said 'Miller and Williams' work was like a distant and passionate forest fire'. ...read more.


Cultural - ? A quality of many Southern writers is their vivid imagination. Some people may define this as 'bizarre and grotesque'. This may be because its roots lay in an awareness of being part of a dying culture. ? This cultural climate favoured the individualistic, the eccentric, and the outcast. ? This is the Southern culture that clearly appealed to Tennessee so much, and he mentioned frequently in his writing. ? His dislike for his mother had an adverse affect on his attitude of the romanticised south. But it was the south as 'a broken, damaged society with the ripe charms of decay' that fired his vivid imagination. ? The South seemed to him to stand for cultural values not based around the money-grabbing prosperous North. This can be demonstrated in A Streetcar Named Desire, where Blanche and Stanley represent the two opposing sides. ? His subjects for his plays was clearly influenced by his image of the South, but we can see, he was also heavily influenced by the 'happenings' in Europe at the time. ? It is possible to see a parallel between plays written in the same era, but over the Atlantic Ocean in Europe. A few European playwrights that influenced Williams are August Strindberg, Anton Chekhov, and Henrik Ibsen. ? In A Streetcar Named Desire you can clearly see the Southern and European cultures uniting. Emily Huntley ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Tennessee Williams section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Tennessee Williams essays

  1. To what extent is the play "A Streetcar Named Desire" the tragedy of Blanche?

    but eventually he hears Blanche urging Stella to leave both him and the life she has married into. "Don't hang back with the brutes!" Blanche tells Stella at the end of scene four. Williams delivers this scene to us making powerful use of both dramatic irony and off set sounds.

  2. An Essay on "The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams.

    In my own work it has always sufficed that the object of my attention be presented without further comment." This quote not only supports William's belief that only the essential words need to be written, but also that he writes about common objects as a way for the common people to relate and expand their imagination when reading his poetry.

  1. Brick says that 'Mendacity is a system we live in. Liquor is one way ...

    It appears as Maggie carrying longing desires for conventionality versus the epitome of conventionality with Mae and Gooper's 2.4 children. It is portrayed as "Virginity that stands...against the grotesqueness of fertility." (Sparknotes.com/drama/cat/analysis). Their sycophantic behaviour towards Big Daddy and Big Mama is a strong attempt at representing perfection.

  2. Examine the relationship between Brick and Maggie in the first act of "Cat on ...

    The reason why the two are still together is mainly because Maggie's determination not to be "poor as Job's turkey" prevents them as she is afraid of returning to the life she had before she met Brick "always had to suck up to people".

  1. The Blanche/Stanley Conflict in Scenes I - IV of "A Streetcar Named Desire". ...

    This appears symbolic of a cave man bringing home his catch for his woman, but at the same time having sexual overtones - something missing from Blanches life at the moment.) He both works and plays hard, and very obviously adores his wife.

  2. Compare the Two Act Three's in Tennessee Williams' Cat On a Hot Tin Roof.

    he echoes a line of Big Daddy's, "Wouldn't it be funny if that was true?" In this way, Brick and Margaret end Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in the way in which Tennessee Williams saw it, with their situation still up in the air, nothing resolved, nothing final.

  1. We shall now attempt to explain the three main parts of a dream in ...

    This was the event that gave the psychical energy to the construction of the dream. From this we can infer that the wish contained in the latent dream content was that this operation would not be as traumatic as her previous one, and that the fulfilment of this wish was the successful rescue of the cat from the well.

  2. Examine the relation between words and action in the stagecraft of Tennessee Williams

    impression of a strong athletic man with an amiable disposition, but the detrimental effect of his alcoholism is beginning to penetrate his appearance. The physically weakening effect of his drunken antics causes him to rely on furniture or a crutch, and Williams makes the obvious parallel that he is employing liquor as an emotional stabiliser.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work