University of Leicester
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Crossing the margin: minorities and marginality in the drama of Tennessee Williams

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posted on 2010-04-22, 14:00 authored by Halla Diyab
The thesis examines the development of the concept of minority in the plays of Tennessee Williams, as it transforms from minority as the identity of a certain group in his early plays, into an experience of marginality. In The Glass Menagerie (1945), A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) and Suddenly Last Summer (1958) Williams' characters experience self-confinement within the body, which categorises them as identifiable minorities. Three versions of The Night of the Iguana will be pivotal in this thesis; the 1961 three-act version of Iguana finds the 'interior space' of the characters' confinement in conflict with 'the exterior space'. In Williams' later plays, including Kingdom of Earth (1968), In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel (1969) and Small Craft Warnings (1972), the concept of marginality becomes more abstract, concerning the characters' interaction with one another to create a space of liberation. The thesis defines this space as 'the circle of 'one-ness' which is formed between two marginalized characters who come together in order to be liberated from their own confinement. Over the course of these plays Williams widens this dramatic circle to operate on a collective level of unity that includes two or more characters. The thesis ends with a discussion of Vieux Carré (1977), where Williams succeeds in dramatising the unity of these characters with the image of the loving God, and offering a return to the self as the source of salvation and liberation. By reading Williams' dramatic texts in relation to his use of stagecraft, including the visual and aural images, stage directions and the characters' movements on the stage, as well as their spoken words, the thesis aims to present a new framework for the study of Williams' dramatic work.



Halliwell, Martin

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University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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