“The Economic Metaphor” in Tennessee William’s Play Suddenly Last Summer

Tennessee Williams’s play Suddenly Last Summer (1958) set in the Victorian Gothic mansion in New Orleans’ Garden District depicts the madness inducing life of the wealthy Southern Venable Family as a microcosm of the capitalist American Society. The “Family” functions as the “economic metaphor” and provides a “protection racket” for covering the invisible crimes and madness induced by the society. The mass psychology emphasizes sameness and shapes the individual’s behavior as the endless consumerist “Little Man,” a concept shaped by the learning theories and the American intellectual background after WWI. The collective unconscious prevents the individual to be powerful and to protest. Fear from gossip, scandal and dismemberment from society and family makes the individual keep silent; and, the madness inducing crime machine family becomes the source of endless pain and suffering. The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between the “family as a protection racket” and “the invisible crimes in mad society” in the light of the anti-psychiatrist (existentialist) R. D. Laing and Deleuzian view of madness and Foucault’s notion of the body and to deconstruct the concepts of “madness” by making the invisible crimes visible.


Madness, economic metaphor, R. D. Laing, Deleuze, Foucault

Author : Dilek ÇALIŞKAN
Number of pages: 20-44
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.29228/ijla.43383
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International Journal of Language Academy
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