Tennessee Williams' Characters in "The Glass Menagerie" and "A Streetcar Named Desire".

Essay by NonBon311High School, 11th grade July 2003

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In a number of Tennessee Williams' plays, the characters seem to have similar traits and lifestyles. In his works, he shows the erosion of human feelings and relationships. His heroes often suffer from broken families; consequently, they do not find their place in society. They tend to be lonely and afraid of their surroundings. In The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire, a common basis can be found between many characters. Although the two plays are different in content, the characters display many of the same thoughts, morals, views, and actions, creating a common bond between them.

In The Glass Menagerie, Williams portrays Laura as a person who is unable to function in the society in which she lives. Clurman states, "With only a few exceptions, Williams' characters are lost souls [. . .]" (500). Laura finds herself lost in a society that does not accept "the fragile, the frightened, the different, the odd, and the lonely" (Clurman 500).

Williams writes, "She's older than you, two years, and nothing has happened. She just drifts along doing nothing. It frightens me terribly how she drifts along" (518). Here Williams shows Laura's lifestyle as being unmotivated and unstable. Laura dropped out of the only business class she enrolled in, and the only activity she has is her daily typewriting, which she does not practice faithfully. This lack of stability is also seen in A Streetcar Named Desire through Blanche.

Blanche, Stella's sister, moves from southern Mississippi to New Orleans because she looses her parents, her home, and her dignity. Williams writes, "All of those deaths! [. . .] you'd never suspect there was a struggle for breath [. . .]. I saw! Saw! Saw!"(26-27). The events which leads Blanche out of the life she once knew, also drives her to desperate...