Tennessee Williams's Dramatic World
Keywords:a lyric/poetic drama, a Southern writer, characterization, plastic theater, controversial themes, symbols.
AbstractTennessee Williams has been regarded as the greatest Southern dramatist and one of the most distinguished playwrights in the history of American drama. He is undoubtedly the most renowned American dramatist of the second half of the 20th Century. This paper addresses and explores some of the main features of his dramatic works. His drama was a lyric or poetic one, and that is why the critic and scholar Frank Durham referred to him as “Tennessee Williams, theater poet in prose”. When David Mamet describes William’s plays as “the greatest dramatic poetry in the American language”, he shares the widely accepted opinion that Williams brought to the language of the American theater a lyricism unequaled before or after. He infuses his dialogue with lyrical qualities so subtle that the reader or hearer, unaware, responds not to realistic speech but, instead, to speech heightened by such poetic effects as alliteration, rhythm, onomatopoeia, and assonance. As a Southern writer, Williams was attuned to the natural rhythm and melody of Southern speech, a melody, he says, heard especially in the voices of women. Characterization is one of Williams’s strongest achievements as a dramatist. His people are imaginatively conceived yet so convincing that it is tempting to take them out of context and theorize about their lives before and after the action of the play. In place of realism, which stressed photographic duplication of the actual, a style that had dominated American stage for four decades, Williams insisted on a theater that was “plastic” that combined all the elements of production- dialogue, action, setting, lighting, even properties- in a unified, symbolic expression of a truth.
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