Tennessee Williams

In class, there were two aspects of Williams’ work that required further discussion. The first was his ability to combine realism and expressionism. The second was his use of Freudian psychoanalysis to create his characters.

In addition to his plays being very realistic, he incorporated elements of expressionism. What is meant by this is not only did he bring a sense of believability to his plays, he attempted (quite successfully) to stir in his viewers fantastical emotional responses. This was achieved by his attention to detail with how he wanted lighting and music done. He also incorporated into the dialogue rhythmic poetry, and within the play dramatic symbolism, one quite prominent symbol being the one for which the play “The Glass Menagerie” is named. It is this ability that distinguishes him from other playwrights of the realism time period.

Freud was a scientist who explored the belief that we compartmentalize our thoughts and only vocalize a small part of them. This view, the psychoanalytic view, is the theory that inner forces outside of your awareness direct your behavior. For example, if you were to call your current boyfriend/girlfriend by an ex’s name, a psychoanalyst might say that you misspoke due to having unresolved feelings for your ex or maybe due to misgivings about  the new relationship. What we do not vocalize can wind up creeping into our conscious and becoming verbal without our meaning to. It is this inner direction that gives us a high level of curiosity about the characters we are watching go through their lives and make choices based on where their inner voice might be leading them.

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