Tennessee Williams Research Paper

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Belen Spriggs
9 March 2012
Ms. Dougherty
AP English 11
Belen Spriggs
9 March 2012
Ms. Dougherty
AP English 11
Spriggs 1
Spriggs 1

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Critical Analysis of Behaviors of Tennessee Williams
A significant playwright of the twentieth century, Tennessee Williams, possesses an insightful understanding of human relations and displays that understanding in a handful of his plays. Tennessee Williams’ lived through a rough childhood and had to grow up quickly to take care of his family as it crumbled before his eyes. His mother, father, and sister all became mentally ill and Williams’ family life shattered (Tennessee Vol.5, 2067). After being mentally and emotionally alienated by his family, Williams suffered with a prolonged period of depression (Bloom 13). Williams’ underwent many of the themes present in his works such as: loss, guilt, sexual desire, alienation, and insecurity. Williams proclaims that he has not written anything that he has not experienced or felt first hand (Bowman). His family relationships and lack of intimate relationships were especially significant in the motivations of writing The Night of the Iguana and Summer and Smoke, two very popular works of Williams. Throughout Williams’ two plays, there is an identical comprehension of the complexity of human behaviors and attitudes in order to criticize insecurities that prevent individuals to develop affectionate and intimate relationships with one another. The Night of the Iguana is crucial amongst Williams’ works because it accurately reflects his conception of how human behaviors affect relationships. The play delves deeply within the human mind, particularly with the main character, Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon. The Night of the Iguana is set in Mexico during the 1940’s and tells the story of Reverend Shannon as it follows his journey of “a better man”. Shannon’s feelings and behavior are not hidden from the audience, but are shared in a way that makes the audience question Shannon and his insecure behaviors. Reverend Shannon was locked out of his church and sometime after, he is employed as a tour guide for a travel agency. Shannon leads the women on his tour bus astray from their desired destination and brings themSpriggs 2 Spriggs 2

to a cheap hotel off the coast of Mexico, the Costa Verde Hotel, which is conveniently managed by his friend Maxine Faulk. The play continues to unfold as new characters are introduced and relationships come about. Throughout the entirety of The Night of the Iguana, Reverend Lawrence Shannon’s confidence and self-esteem is portrayed to be extremely low and does not get better until the very last moment. Spriggs 2

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At the beginning of the play, Shannon’s sexual desires and urges come to light; he brings yet another victim, Charlotte, to his problem of “laying young girls”. Charlotte Goodall is a sixteen-year old girl, who is on Shannon’s tour guide bus. Ms. Fellowes, another tour guide leader says to Shannon, “Couldn’t keep your hands off innocent, underage girls…,” Ms. Fellowes saying this validates the fact that Shannon has always been known for his corruption and seduction of younger girls (Tennessee, Iguana 51). As soon as Charlotte shares her inner feelings and is affectionate towards Shannon, he is quick to reject her and suppress her in all ways possible. ADD QUOTE IF TIME. Shannon has a “modus operandi” towards women; he has a habit of seducing them and wanting nothing more from them once the relationships goes too far beyond sex. When Shannon is asked by Maxine why he always goes for the young ones, he replies with, “I don’t want any, any regardless of age. People need human contact…” (Tennessee, Iguana 18). Here, Shannon presents yet another way that he sees himself, which is alone and without someone he really longs to be with. Shannon just needs someone to have contact with-anyone at all. Shannon is incapable of true love or feelings; he sets aside all affections and replaces them with...
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