A Writer's View
Thomas Lanier "Tennessee" Williams was born on March 11, 1911 in Columbus, Tennessee. His childhood life consists of his mother who was a woman who was characterized as someone who has a strong desire for a southern way of living. His father was a travelling shoe salesman who is always on business trip and was abusive towards his family. Tennessee had a sister name Rose who was institutionalized for being emotionally disturbed and fragile. Upon learning about Tennessee's life, the characters from A Streetcar Named Desire seem to come to life. Williams used his familys characteristics to shape the characters of the book A Streetcar Named Desire.
Edwina Dakin Williams is Tennessee Williams mother. She is daughter of an Episcopal minister who was brought up in a refined family. When describing a family who is headed by a minister and is brought up in a refined way, the characterization are church goers, genteel, quiet, elegant which the character of Blanche Dubois in a way shaped from this side of his mother. Blanche Dubois is described as she is daintily dressed in a white suit with a fluffy bodice, necklace and earrings of pearl, white gloves and a hat. (Williams, 15). Williams must have envisioned Blanche to have the same manners, up bringing his mother had. Another character that had similarity to Williams' mother is Stella. Stella is married to a man who is abusive towards of her. According to Tennessee Williams' biography his father would come home after being on the road for weeks and come home always angry, ill tempered, and will get into an argument with Edwina. The children most especially the boys would always take the wrath of his anger. Unfortunately for Stella, she was the only one that Stanley could take his anger on, until Blanche came in the picture. Stanley would make derogatory remarks towards Stella. Although both women were abused by their husbands, they still ended up staying with them to keep their family together.
Cornelius Williams who hails from Mississippi came from a family with political ties. He made his living by being a traveling shoes sales man which lead to Cornelius being away from his family most of the time. Most of the time when hes home, he is considered to be abusive, and usually intoxicated. He was very inconsiderate of his familys feelings. The argument between Cornelius and Edwina would cause tension in the family. The character that resembles Cornelius would be Stanley Kowalski. Stanley would always have a beer, he is also very inconsiderate about other peoples feeling especially Blanche. Stanley also would not treat his wife with respect. On one occasion when Stanley got drunk, he almost hurt Stella who is with child. The same awful ways they treat their wives is also a similarity both Cornelius and Stanley has.
Another family member that Williams' use is Rose Williams. Rose Williams is Tennessee's older sister. She grew up being an emotionally imbalanced and disturbed lady. Rose was diagnosed with schizophrenia and ended up staying in a mental institution for the majority of her life. Although she was in the institution, Rose and Tennessee became very close and she would become the most influential person in his life. In order to help Rose with her illness her parents had her undergo a lobotomy. Unfortunately, the lobotomy was not successful and a result Rose became incapacitated and ended up in a facility. The character of Blanche Dubois towards the end had the similar fate that Rose had. After Blanche was raped, Stella called a mental institution to take his sister away to be treated.
The last person that Tennessee used is himself. He was a combination of Blanche Dubois and Stanley Kowalski. Blanche and Tennessee both had a love for poems. All the poems that Blanche's husband wrote, she kept them all. She would read them and cherish and even have it locked in a box. Williams also had the love for poem. In his young age, he has written many poems and stories. Due to all the fighting that was going on in his home, he would lock himself in his room and write poems about his feelings, about anything that would be going on in his life. That was his outlet of frustration towards his family and life. Another similarity is the insult that both Blanche and Tennessee received from others. Blanche became a laughing stock in her hometown. Stanley tells Stella that he has a travelling friend that knows of Blanche having a bad reputation in the South. Stanley's friend also says that Blanche was driven out of town because of her bad reputation and is covering it up with her southern belle facade. On the other hand, Tennessee Williams also suffered from insults from others. According to one report, Tennessee was a victim of a gay bashing in Florida where a group of teenagers assaulted Williams because of his sexuality.
Williams' used his family's life as his basis on his characters in the play. He used his own ups and downs to mold his characters and give them their own personalities. There is a saying that the best topic to talk about are topics that a writer knows all about. Williams used his own life and his family because he experienced most of what he wrote about first hand. In a way, it might have given him the outlet to express his feelings and put closure to all the sad memories he has experienced.