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Thesis The outcasts in Tennessee Williamss major plays suffer not because of the acts or situations which make them outcasts but because of the destructive effect of conventional morality upon them More than a half century has passed since critics and theater-goers recognized Tennessee Williams 1911-1983 as an important--perhaps the most important--American playwright Two recent events however have created renewed interest in his work The first is the death in 1996 of Maria St Just who controlled the late playwrights papers1 The second is the publication in that same year of Lyle Leverichs Tom The Unknown Tennessee Williams Both events represent access to information about this playwright that has heretofore been unavailable to scholarsan influx of so much new information that a reexamination of Williamss work is not only possible but necessary My dissertation will reexamine Williamss work in light of his claim that plays in the tragic tradition offer us a view of certain moral values in violent juxtaposition The Rose Tattoo 151 Williamss plays outline a struggle between the moral values of non-conformists who are outcasts because they can not or will not conform to the values of the dominant culture and of conformists who represent that culture The outcast characters in Tennessee Williamss major plays do not suffer because of the actions or circumstances that make them outcast but because of the destructive impact of conventional morality upon them The outcasts are driven in the conflict between their values and those of conventional morality to 1 confess their transgressions against conventional morality and 2 suffer at their own hands or by placing themselves in dangerous situations in atonement for their non-conformity That Williamss outcasts are miserable is evidence of his opinion that the demands of conventional morality can be destructive Chapter One of my dissertation will provide a foundation for discussion of this argument Chapters Two Three and Four will contain extensive examples from Williamss plays in support
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