Tennessee Williams’ Women in a Man’s World

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THE MAJOR PLAYS of Tennessee Williams—who died just 25 years ago, in 1983—feature women at their core. But for all their centrality as the emotional focal point of these plays, paradoxically enough, these women are without power in the community they inhabit. It is the men who control events; the women are entirely dependent on the men and use them to achieve their goals. In A Streetcar Named Desire, the strangers on whose kindness Blanche DuBois has “always depended” are exclusively male strangers. In The Glass Menagerie, Amanda and Laura Wingfield depend on Tom for their very survival. And, in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, childless Maggie the Cat lacks any claim to the estate of her husband’s family.

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