The Life & Work of Tennessee Williams


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The Life & Work of Tennessee Williams

  1. 1. Photo courtesy of<br />Tennessee Williams<br /> The Life & Work of<br />Hannah Jones<br /><br />LIS 201<br />April 28, 2011<br />1<br />
  2. 2. Fast Facts<br />Born Thomas Lanier Williams in Columbus, Mississippi on March 26, 1911.<br />At age sixteen was awarded third place in a contest hosted by Smart Set literary magazine for an essay entitled, “Can a Wife Be a Good Sport?<br />1937: completed English degree at the University of Iowa. <br />Moved to New Orleans, LA at age 28 where he changed his name to Tennessee and came out as a gay man.<br />Awarded his first Pulitzer Prize for Streetcar Named Desire in 1948.<br />Awarded a Tony award for the screenplay, The Rose Tattoo, in 1951.<br />Awarded second Pulitzer Prize for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1955.<br /> Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter.<br />Died on February 25, 1983 at age 71 in New York City.<br />T<br />W<br />2<br />
  3. 3. Sweet Home Mississippi<br />Photo courtesy of<br /> The photograph above features Williams’ childhood home in Columbus, MS. Williams moved with his family to St. Louis, MI during his early teenage years where he spent the majority of his young adult left. <br />Clipart provided by<br />3<br />
  4. 4. Most Significant Works<br />Photo courtesy of<br />Photo courtesy of<br />The Glass Menagerie (1944)<br />A Streetcar Named Desire (1947)<br />The Rose Tattoo (1951)<br />Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955)<br />The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond (1957)<br />Complete listing can be found at: <br /><br />Photo courtesy of<br />4<br />Image courtesy of<br />Photo courtesy of<br />
  5. 5. A Streetcar Named Desire<br />Williams’ Pulitzer Prize winning play, A Streetcar Named Desire, shifted from the stage to the screen in 1951 in a Hollywood production, which stared Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh. <br />Photo courtesy of<br />Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski and Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois<br />Photo courtesy of<br />5<br />
  6. 6. Themes in A Streetcar Named Desire: I<br />Escapism<br />Escapism is defined by Merriam-Webster as the “habitual diversion of the mind…(or) an escape from reality or routine.”<br />Blanche finds escape through two resources: her male suitors or drunkenness. She is unable to deal with the death of her husband and the loss of her family’s estate, which ultimately leads to her instability.<br /><br />Williams further explores escapism and the tragic results that are often yielded through the male-female dynamic, Stanley (reality) and Blanch (fantasy).<br />Photo courtesy of<br />6<br />
  7. 7. Themes in A Streetcar Named Desire : II<br />Dependence on Men<br />Because of Blanche’s instability she relies on men for her happiness as well as her sense of worth.<br />Stella, Blanche’s sister, is married to Stanley, who is abusive yet commands a domineering power over Stella.<br />“STELLLAAA!”<br />Photo courtesy of moviespeechastreetcarnameddesire.html<br />Photo courtesy of<br />7<br />
  8. 8. Art Reflecting Life<br />Williams grew up in a fairly dysfunctional family. His father was emotionally abusive toward him due to his lack physical ability and consistent bouts of illness during his childhood. Throughout his life his mother was overbearing and overprotective of Williams, perhaps as a result of his father’s rejection. <br />Many of Williams’ plays reflect themes that occurred in his own life. For example Stanley’s (from A Streetcar Named Desire) overbearing masculinity corresponds to Williams’ father domineering personality. Another example is the character of Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which Williams claimed was a directly influenced by his own father. <br />After moving to Missouri as an early teen, “He (Williams) and his siblings were often ridiculed by other students because of their Southern accent. He also skipped school regularly and did poorly in his studies, preferring instead to escape into the world of reading and writing.”<br />- Ronald Hayman, Tennessee Williams: Everyone Else Is an Audience<br />Because of Williams’ struggle in his day-to-day life, his familiarity with escapism transcended into his work and is portrayed through various characters, including Blanche DuBois, who, like Williams, looked to alternative ways to escape reality. <br />8<br />
  9. 9. Awards and Recognition<br />Awarded his first Pulitzer Prize for Streetcar Named Desire in 1948.<br />Awarded a Tony award for the screenplay The Rose Tattoo in 1951<br />Awarded second Pulitzer Prize for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1955.<br /> Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter.<br />Photo courtesy of<br />9<br />
  10. 10. Thank you for your attention.<br />Questions? Comments?<br />?<br />10<br />