Study Guide

Tennessee Williams Depression & Death

Depression & Death

So if the giant DEPRESSION and DEATH up above didn't give it away, this section isn't going to be an upper. 

In 1957, Williams's play Orpheus Descending opened on Broadway. It was a critical and commercial flop, closing after only sixty-eight performances. Williams became deeply depressed and underwent psychoanalysis. 

We hope he didn't consult his parents. We all remember how they handled mental illness. 

Well...all of us, except Rose. 

Two more of Williams's plays soon flopped, but in 1961, The Night of the Iguana premiered and won Williams his third and final Tony Award. The play was his last critical success for a decade.

Depression wasn't the only culprit in Williams's creative collapse. In the mid-1950s, he started using drugs and alcohol to deal with his constant anxiety. 

We use ice cream and Netflix to deal with our anxiety, so...yeah, we're pretty hardcore, too.

By the early 1960s, his daily intake of substances had grown to staggering proportions. In any given day, Tennessee could knock back a fifth of liquor, two packs of cigarettes, and handfuls of pills.

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