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Introduction & Overview of Orpheus Descending by Tennessee Williams

This Study Guide consists of approximately 81 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Orpheus Descending.
This section contains 218 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
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Orpheus Descending Summary & Study Guide Description

Orpheus Descending Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading and a Free Quiz on Orpheus Descending by Tennessee Williams.

Introduction

Orpheus Descending, a play by Tennessee Williams (New York, 1958, currently in print, published by Dramatist's Play Service), opened in 1957 in New York City. Although Williams was at the time an established playwright, having had huge success with The Glass Menagerie (1944), A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), and other plays, Orpheus Descending was harshly criticized and widely considered a failure. It was a play that Williams had labored over for more than seventeen years. The earliest version was called Battle of Angels, and was first produced in 1940. After Battle of Angels was almost universally condemned by critics, Williams rewrote it five times, reshaping it as a modern version of the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice.

In Orpheus Descending, a young charismatic musician descends on a small, repressive southern town. He forms a relationship with a passionate woman who is trapped in a bad marriage and who has a tragic past. The play exhibits many of the playwright's typical themes: loneliness and desire, sexuality and repression, the longing for freedom. Violence lurks just below the surface, and it bursts into the open at the play's end. The play is also rich in imagery, lyrical language, and symbolism. It is now recognized as one of Williams's weightier plays, although perhaps not on the level of his finest work.

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This section contains 218 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Orpheus Descending Study Guide
Copyrights
Orpheus Descending from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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