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Fragile as Glass in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

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In Tennessee Williams‘ play The Glass Menagerie, the audience believes that the
menagerie simply refers to a glass collection owned by Laura Wingfield. Laura lives with her
brother Tom and her mother Amanda. Due to her mother‘s desire for her to marry, Jim‘s
introduction to the play is one as a gentleman caller. When Laura describes her glass animals to
Jim, she uses her mother‘s term ―glass menagerie‖ (Williams 414) for them. All of the figures
are glass, but the animals in it vary, and thus fit, one definition of the word. However, there is
another definition to consider: ―an unusual and varied group of people‖ (―Menagerie‖). This
interpretation of the word seems to fit the entire play. Glass takes on many forms: clear, stained,
tinted, broken, vitreous, plain, painted, fractured, faceted, and toughened are just a few. The title
of the play now represents the way that the varied group of people in it portrays the definition.
Tom introduces the audience to the Wingfield family by means of his memories. Since
the play is a memory, Tom‘s interpretation of his family stems from his point of view. He does
not try to make himself out to be any better than the other members are. If anything, his character
seems to have just as many, if not more, flaws as his sister‘s and mother‘s characters do. The
inner conflict he suffers from makes him seem like a piece of stained glass, all separated, and
unable to become one piece. His conflict stems from what he is, what he wants to be, and what
he knows is right. Amanda drives home the latter by asking, ―How do you think we‘d manage if
you were‖ (Williams 395) implying that all of their well-beings depend on him. He holds down a
job at a warehouse, but poetry ...

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...r than
let the differences tear them apart.

Works Cited

Holditch, W. Kenneth. ―The Glass Menagerie.‖ Identities and Issues in Literature (1997):
Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 16 Nov. 2010.
―Menagerie.‖ Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 11 Nov. 2010.
Panesar, Gurdip. “Literary Contexts in Plays: Tennessee Williams‘ The Glass Menagerie‖
Literary Contexts in Plays: Tennessee Williams‟ „The Glass Menagerie‟ (2007):1.
Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 16 Nov. 2010.
Tischler, Nancy M. ―The Glass Menagerie: The Revolution of Quiet Truth.‖ Bloom‟s Modern
Critical Interpretations: The Glass Menagerie (1988): 31-41. Literary Reference Center.
EBSCO. Web. 16 Nov. 2010.
Williams, Tennessee. ―The Glass Menagerie.‖ Literature: Craft and Voice. Eds. Nicholas
Delbanco and Alan Cheuse. Vol. 3.New York: McGraw-Hill. 2010. 387-420. Print.

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