Tennessee Williams Violence Analysis

2406 Words10 Pages
Exploring Violence in Tennessee Williams’ plays In the 1930s, when playwrights addressed social and political issues by dramatizing their effect on everyday domestic lives of ordinary people, Williams’ focus was on psychological exploration that had been the concern of the realistic dramatists of the 1920s. (Berkowitz 87) Brutality, violence and cruelty are commonly found in Williams’ plays. Legendary director Elia Kazan once said of Tennessee Williams “Everything in his life is in his plays, and everything in his plays is in his life.” He deals with topics such as violence, sex, alcoholism, homosexuality in his plays which were hush-hush and weren’t spoken about in public. I feel that this stems from his own life. He had a disturbed childhood…show more content…
Even though there are other themes in his plays, I cannot deny the fact that violence forms a major theme in two of his plays which I am examining, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. His plays are violent not only because the characters are physically aggressive but also because the tragic events that happened to most of his main protagonists shaped their personality and traumatized them. For that reason, they are emotionally disturbed and have problems in dealing with reality. Verbal attacks are their form of defense against the harsh world. Violence leads to the tragic end of the characters in both these plays. I explore the violence and its forms in the two plays in my paper. I would first like to focus on the violence in A Streetcar Named Desire. Streetcar is set during the time of socioeconomic change in America when the great Old South was about to decline. New Orleans is a melting pot of cultures where new beliefs and new attitudes were introduced. The play is full of examples of domestic violence, but when Tennessee Williams wrote it in 1947, domestic violence was not a topic most people discussed, even when it was…show more content…
He is very aggressive towards Big Mama, even in front of his children. In fact, he also openly states that he cannot tolerate her. His way of talking is straightforward and vulgar. Maybe this is because he thinks that he has just escaped the face of death and hence feels that life is short and he should not lose time anymore. He has made it his mission to find out Brick’s problem, help him solve it and prepare him to be the heir to the plantation. He confronts Brick and forces him to face his mendacity. In this confrontation, he also becomes violent towards Brick. He takes away Brick’s crutch to purposely cause him pain. The crutch here is a symbol of a sort of handicap. It also symbolizes Brick’s unmanliness. Thus, Big Daddy taking away Brick’s crutch is a way to blackmail and force him to confront his fears. He pushes hard to get Brick to admit that his disgust is with his own mendacity. In the heat of the moment, Brick discloses the fact to Big Daddy that he is suffering from cancer and that the family members lied to him so as to not hurt his feelings. In a way, he robs Big Daddy of his second life. This comes as a big blow to Big Daddy. Big Daddy and Brick are both frustrated with the relationships in the family. They are both dealing with the same problem – mendacity. The only difference is that Big Daddy has accepted and is living with lies. He does not understand why Brick cannot live with
Open Document