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Camino Real


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AT: Ten Blocks on the Camino Real A: Tennessee Williams Pf: 1953, New York Pb: 1948; rev. 1953 G: Drama in 16 scenes and a prologue S: Latin American town, indeterminate period C: 21m, 7f, extrasKilroy, the mythical American sailor of Second World War graffiti (‘Kilroy was here’), finds himself trapped within the walls of an unnamed Latin American town. Here, on Camino Real (meaning both ‘Royal Road’ and ‘Real Road’), ‘Nothing wild or honest is tolerated’, and all the legendary and fictional characters Kilroy encounters are victims of unfulfilled longing. Jacques [sic] Casanova knows he can never still his sexual yearnings. Lord Byron, who describes Shelley's cremation, is trapped in his fantasies of achieving heroism fighting for Greek independence. Esmeralda (from Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame) praises the world's misfits, and the hopes of Marguerite Gautier (see Lady of the Camellias, The) must also remain unfulfilled. Kilroy is seized, and forced to act the clown to entertain hotel guests. However, he snatches his heart from students carrying out an autopsy. Since it is pure gold, Don Quixote, who has lost his companion Sancho Panza, now invites Kilroy to accompany him out of the town. The fountain, which had dried up, begins to flow again, and Don Quixote encourages Kilroy: ‘The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks!’

AT: Ten Blocks on the Camino Real A: Tennessee Williams Pf: 1953, New York Pb: 1948; rev. 1953 G: Drama in 16 scenes and a prologue S: Latin American town, indeterminate period C: 21m, 7f, extras

In this curious Expressionist phantasmagoria, Williams confused and angered his critics by turning from the psychological studies of his early work to create this allegory of figures who cannot find the way out of their emotional impasse. Here, the symbolic elements already present in his realistic plays are writ large, and the desperate longings of Laura Whitfield and Blanche Dubois are seen embodied in legendary figures. It is the ‘regular guy’ Kilroy, forced like Williams to play the clown, who follows the Camino Real, the way to reality.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Tennessee Williams (1911—1983) American dramatist


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