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An Analysis of Tennessee Williams’ “Orpheus Descending” Based on the Features of Expressionist Drama

Author(s): Atieh Rafati

Journal: English Language and Literature Studies
ISSN 1925-4768

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Expressionism arose in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th.centuries as a response to bourgeois complacency and the increasing mechanization and urbanization of society. At its height between 1910 and 1925, just before and after the first world war, expressionist writers distorted objective features of the sensory world using symbolism and dream-like elements in their works illustrating the alienating and often emotionally overwhelmed sensibilities. The term refers to a movement in Germany very early in the 20th.century in which a number of painters sought to avoid the representation of external reality and, instead, to project themselves and a highly personal vision of the world. The term can be applied to literature, but only judiciously. The theories of Expressionism had considerable influence in Germany and Scandinavia. In fact, expressionism dominated the theater for a time in the 1920s. Theatrically it was a reaction against realism and aimed to show inner psychological realities. This paper endeavour to analyse the Tennessee Williams’ “Orpheus Descending” based on the features of Expressionist drama. In his play Williams have efforted to depict his personal expression according to the society after the first world war. First, with the reference to the features of Expressionist drama a pattern of analysis will be structured. Then, the analysis of Williams’ play based on these features will be indicated. Finally, the result of analysis will be investigated for better reading and comprehend the plays of this type.
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