Tennessee Williams


The playwright, Tennessee Williams, allows the main characters in

the plays A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie to live

miserable lives which they try to deny and later change. The downfall and

denial of the Southern gentlewoman is a common theme in both plays.

The characters, Blanche from A.S.N.D. and Amanda from T.G.M., are prime

examples of this concept. Both Blanche and Amanda have had many

struggles in their lives and go through even more through out the rest of

the plays. The problem is that Williams never lets the two women work

through and move on from these problems. The two ladies are allowed to

destroy themselves and he invites us to watch them in the process(Stine

and Marowski 474). The downfall, denial, and need to change of the two

women is quite evident in these two plays.

First the troubles of Blanche and Amanda need to be recognized.

Blanche hides her drinking problem so well when she arrives and sneaks a

shot of whiskey (William A Streetcar Named Desire, ,Scene1. Page 18.

Lines 12-17) that when she is later offered a drink, she acts as though she

has no idea where they keep them (Williams, A.S.N.D. 1.19.12-15). Amanda

cannot accept that no gentlemen callers are coming for Laura,herdaughter,

thus making it harder for Laura to accept it (Williams,The Glass Menagerie,

1.28.1-5). Blanche and Amanda both do not allow themselves to accept

their problems and work them out. They deny these problems which feeds

them making them larger and even more complicated. When Stella offered

Blanche a second drink she stated, “One’s my limit.” (Williams, A.S.N.D.,

1.21.14-15) Blanche is very “self-destructive” (Hassan 326). She is her own

worst enemy because of how she handles her problems. Amanda

comments at the end of the play that Tom shouldn’t think about his poor

mother and sister in a very sarcastic way (Williams, T.G.M., 9.114.1-3). She

tries to push her problems off on him and not deal with them herself. By

pushing the blame off on Tom, she feels as though she did nothing wrong

and it is everyone else’s fault. If the two women had just accepted that

they were at fault too and not just everyone else they could have moved

on with their lives.

Both Blanche and Amanda’s biggest problem is that they deny the

truth. Blanche denies her drinking problem. She also denies the fact that

she was a prostitute. She even made such an unbelievable comment that,

“I take for granted that you still have sufficient memeory of Belle Reve to

find this place and these poker players impossible to live with.” (Williams,

A.S.N.D., 4.70.1-3) She denies that she ever sunk lower than Stella when in

truth, she was much worse. She was the one who lost her job for sleeping

with a seventeen year old and was kicked out of the town for being a slut

by the mayor. She had the gall to lecture Stella on her choice of men.

“You can’t have forgotten that much of our up bringing, Stella, that you

just suppose that any part of a gentlemen in his nature!” (Williams,

A.S.N.D., 4.71.13-18) Blanche speaks to Stella as though it is absolutely

terrible that she married Stanley, of all people, when she slept with more

people than she could even remember. She shows the “do as I say, not as I

do” philosophy while though at first, Stella is not even aware of her sister’s

past. Amanda on the other hand, just shrinks poor Laura’s self-esteem and

confidence more than it already is by bragging about how she had

seventeen gentlemen callers over one evening when she was Laura’s age.
Amanda also refers to her husband’s leaving her and her childeren as, “he

fell in love with long distances...” (Williams, T.G.M., 1.23.28). She sannot

admit the truth that he just left them. She cannot even admit to herself

that Laura is crippled, she only refers to her as different. Also, when

Amanda looks back at her past, she tends to only remember the good

things that happened. She has blocked out the things that she did not

enjoy and has exaggerated the past to an extent. At one point in the play,

she brags about her seventeen