A writer that revolutionized the literary genre!!!
Is there anything called Depression or Disturbed Mental Equilibrium or Neurosis?
Tennnessee Wiliams, a twentieth century American Dramatist and a Pulitzer Award winning writer stands as a testimony of the fact that failure, neurosis or depression can easily be dealt or done away with by simply presenting and exposing the inner thoughts and emotions through emphatic writing.
A detailed account evinces the dynamic qualities of the writer and a voracious reader who in hardships made writing and books his best friends.
Tennessee Williams ranks after Eugene O’Neill as the greatest twentieth century playwright in the history of American letters, and a little higher than such contemporary masters as Edward Albee and August Wilson. Williams won two Pulitzer Prizes, for- A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), and won New York Dramatic Critics Award for The Glass Menagerie (1944). His other major plays include Summer and Smoke (1948), The Rose Tattoo (1951), Camino Real (1953), Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), and The Night of the Iguana (1961). In addition to his two Pulitzers, Tennessee Williams was nominated four times for the Tony Award for Best Play, winning once, for The Rose Tattoo. His last Best Play Tony Award nomination came 16 years after his death, for Not about Nightingales. He also won four Drama Desk Critics Awards.
Born to Cornelius and Edwina Dakin Williams on March 26, 1911, in Columbus, Mississippi, Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams was amply prepared for writing about society’s outcasts. His mother was an aggressive woman, obsessed by her fantasies of genteel southern living. His father, a traveling salesman for a large shoe manufacturer, was at turns distant and abusive. His older sister, Rose, was emotionally disturbed and destined to spend most of her life in mental institutions.
Critics and theatre-goers recognized Williams as an important American playwright, whose plays, as fellow dramaturge David Mamet calls “the greatest dramatic poetry in the American language” (qtd. in Griffin 13) beautifully distilled human emotions from the prism of reality.
His writings gave a new dimension to theatre by transforming the conventional theatre into an Expressionistic one. Emerging into prominence just as the second world war came to a close, Tennessee Williams offered theatre-goers a new ‘plastic’ theatre, more caustic than the escapist dramas of war years, but nevertheless more engagingly sensitive than the social dramas of 1930s.
Plastic theatre employed unconventional techniques, offering his audiences a view of reality filtered through a poetic imagination. His plays presented social catastrophe, predicament and psychoanalysis of the misfits or solitary beings in a symbolic manner that is manifested through the nostalgic mood that is through narrator’s memory, elaborate production notes, the use of the scrim, slide projections, music, lightening effects and the visual symbols like glass menagerie, iguana besides the subtler religious myths.
According to a 1962 TIME Magazine cover story published at the height of his success, he had made $6 million (over $40 million, when adjusted for inflation) from his writing, and was enjoying an annual income of $200,000 a year (about $1.4 million), soaring the heavenly heights of fame and fortune.
Inspite of undergoing continuous lobotomy and being under the state of depression, he purified his inner self by writing intensively with a self appealing alacrity. His writings portrayed cultural failure and brought prominently ‘The Great Depression’ of 1930 to the forefront.
He very powerfully highlighted the subconscious of human beings rather than emphasizing the conscious and brought to the surface the crude reality of emotional & intellectual hollowness through his writings.
His writings regret the romanticism of the culture of the south which seems to be in sharp contrast to hostile modern and suffocating environment of the north. His imagination is fashioned from memory, fantasy and deep longing for love and rescue, coupled with a sense of despair and marginalization.
His writings are still held to be more successful due to their inner probing of a lost person in the corrupt and materialistic world of twentieth century.
Various approaches and studies suggest that his writing is the voice of common man and women. His art is combined with the other experiences and ideas of his life in the deep well of his unconscious. Hence his plays invite a constant revaluation.
“Writing distills human thoughts and leads to purification of human emotions, rightly defined as catharsis.”
“Catapulted the thought process during cultural failure in America through his writings by stirring the subconscious.”
“A writer that brought about theatrical advances and Expressionism in the America.”
“Neurosis and Depression can be distilled and done away with powerful presentation of one’s own experiences in life. ”
“Brought about a renaissance in American writings and theatre.”