Gothicism in selected prose and dramatic works of Tennessee Williams

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1970

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Abstract

One of the most compelling of modern writers to employ what Irving Malin has called New American Gothic (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1962) is Tennessee Williams. Williams' protagonists often display a narcissism which is expressed in egoism, in sexual perversion, or through an abnormal fixation pattern. The distortion of reality which results from this narcissism is also manifested by warped and broken families whose members cannot communicate. In addition, Williams' works exhibit the classic Gothic image of a haunted castle, in this case a metaphor for the illusionary world of the characters. Williams himself linked his works with a modern "Gothic School" by virtue of their use of "violent externals," and this symbolic use of violence is a particularly Williamsian adaptation of Gothicism. This thesis analyzes selected prose and dramatic works of Williams' in light of their employment of these Gothic characteristics: narcissistic protagonists, warped families, use of the castle metaphor, and the symbolic use of violence.

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Keywords

Williams, Tennessee,--1911-1983--Criticism and interpretation.

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