Tennessee Williams was born, Thomas Lanier Williams on March 26, 1911 in
Columbus, Mississippi. His father was a shoe salesman who spent a great deal of his
time away from the family. Williams had one older sister, Rose, and one younger
Williams struggled with depression throughout most of his life. For periods of his
life Williams battled with addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol. At a young age he
suffered a nervous breakdown, and he lived in constant fear that he would go insane, as
did his sister, Rose. So, as a form of "psychotherapy" he began writing about his
childhood experiences. "I have only one major theme for my work, which is the
destructive impact of society on the non-conformist individual", Williams once said.
This theme can be seen common throughout not only his two most successful plays, The
Glass Menagerie, and A Streetcar Named Desire, but throughout his own life as well.
And we can see this very clearly when we look at the dialogue, and the relations between
the actions in the plays and the actions in Tennessee Williams' life.
The first affinity we will look at is Laura Wingfield's relationship to her brother
Tom, in The Glass Menagerie, in comparison to the relationship of Rose Williams to her
In the story, Laura Winfield was born with an illness that left her crippled, causing
her to feel different from everyone else. And stemming from this feeling of difference,
the author explains, " Laura's separation increases till she is like a piece of her own glass
collection, too exquisitely fragile to move from the shelf."(Tischler, 36) Laura becomes
the one in the story who needs to be cared for, loved and understood. She has a unique
charm that somehow keeps her brother, Tom, home...