Why I love Tennessee Williams

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What is there not to love about this playwright? From the first words of a ‘A Steetcar Named Desire’ I could tell that there was a distinct literary elegance to this work. Later, I understood that this brutal attribution of poetic justice, this vulgar yet sensitive exploration of human sexuality, his open fascination with life’s futility which he explores through the loss of innocence,  a gut-wrecking lack of love and an incurable mental illness. He hits at the core of our inherent need for survival and our socially constructed desire for an orderly life.

In his mangus opus, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ he fully exposes the collapse of a withered belle, Blanche DuBois that finds herself half-mad, with a faded beauty and an overwhelming sense of hope, that is a blatant refusal to accept the dismal reality of her life. Stanley Kowalski is her polar opposite, a man of sexual desire and  a singularly truthful understanding of the world. The electrifying sexual tension between them is formidable and exhibited wonderfully both in the text and the infamous 1951 version.

There are endless unresolved sources of tension in this play, whose resolution only leads to more misery. There is a sexual desire hanging intensely in the air, as is the notion of death, loneliness, the sudden and shocking loss of innocence, the knowledge of unaccomplished dreams. The reader and audience hope that resolving these issues will allow for some happiness and mental tranquility, of which there is minimal in the play. The constant false expectations of Blanche and her misinterpretation of reality provide a moving dramatic irony, whereby Williams distributes poetic justice not in the favour of his tragic anti-hero heroine and protagonist, and places all the odds against her, lending her a timeless sense of hopelessness.

Although Williams’ characters are overly poetic constructs and in every aspect dramatic, they are totally relatable to all; for their honest portrayal of the pointless aspects of life and man’s inability to fight the devastating effects of time and the need for individual survival, which renders human communication both utterly meaningless and completely necessary.

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