Messages from the Dark Interior. Narratives of Loss and Guilt in a Selection of Plays by Tennessee Williams.

Tabak, Jennie. 2010. Messages from the Dark Interior. Narratives of Loss and Guilt in a Selection of Plays by Tennessee Williams.. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Loss is a prominent theme in the works of American playwright Tennessee Williams (1911-1983). The four plays discussed in this study (The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Suddenly Last Summer and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) illuminate aspects of an ethics of loss which advocates the acceptance of the integrity of the lost object leading to a dynamic of mourning rather than to a melancholic incorporation of a 'part object' as a result of an inability to acknowledge the loss and one's guilt resulting from one's contribution to the loss of the loved object. Thus, each of the four plays discussed presents conflicting narratives, when one is aiming to become the dominant through silencing other potential narratives as an avoidant manner of rejecting one’s feelings of guilt for the loss one has experienced. Amanda, Stanley, Mrs. Venable and Brick all struggle against validating narratives of loss differing from their own. At the same time, the unacknowledged losses of those marginalised by society (in these plays- homosexuals and 'mental patients') are given voice in those plays (often by the main character or one of the main characters). Theories by Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, Nicholas Abraham and Maria Torok addressing loss and incorporation as a result of a failure of mourning provide the psychoanalytic background to the literary analysis of the plays.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature



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Date Deposited:

17 Feb 2012 18:14

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:29


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