Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)

Degree Name




First Advisor

Dr. Charles Duncan


This thesis was undertaken to determine the Impact that the females In Tennessee Williams' family had on his portrayal of female characters n his major plays and to determine the extent that these characters were actually reflections of Williams himself.

Williams' female characters fall Into three categories: the Southern genteel lady, female aggressor/mother-figure, and the survivors of corrupt societies. Williams' depiction of the women In each of these categories reflected his association with the females in his family. Rose, his sister, represented the fragile* sexually repressed Southern genteel lady. On the other hand, Williams' mother Edwina could be placed In all three categories of Williams' women since she possessed characteristics common to each category. She represented the fragile, genteel lady who lived 1n her own Illusions despite the drastic alteration of her life-style when her family made the move from Mississippi to Missouri. Like Amanda W1ngf1eld, Edwina was determined to keep her family going by any available means, and this characteristic was exemplary of a mother figure. Lastly, we may think of Edwina as having been a survivor who knew that life had to go on despite the fact that her daughter had to have a lobotomy and later was Institutionalized.

The three categories of Williams1 women can also be said to be indicative of the phases of Williams1 homosexuality. The Southern genteel lady represented the early sexually repressed years of Williams' life. The female aggressor/mother-figure delineated his "coming out of the closet" or the public expression of his sexual preference despite criticism or ostracism. Lastly, the survivors in corrupt societies can be identified with Williams' final accomodation with the homosexual life-style.