Free Glass Menagerie Essays: The Characters’ Weaknesses and Strengths

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The Characters' Weaknesses and Strengths in The Glass Menagerie

In an interview, Tennessee Williams once said, "I have always been more interested in creating a character that contains something crippled... They have a certain appearance of fragility, these neurotic people I write about, but they are really strong." In Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, the strengths and weaknesses of the characters is the focus of the play.

There have been several critics who have raised interesting points concerning this subject. Critic Judith J. Thompson takes the stance that Amanda's "embodiment of 'The Great Mother'" is blinded by her weakness of an unrealistic world (p. 17). She states that Amanda's character is made up of "the Good Mother, the Terrible Mother, the seductive young witch, and the innocent virgin" (Thompson 17). She supports her theory with the incident in which Amanda says that she had seventeen gentlemen callers in one day. Thompson goes on to say that the "exaggeration of the number of Amanda's beaux recalls fairy tale and legends of romance in which the princess is beleaguered by suitors until the ideal knight or prince returns" (17). Here, Thompson shows that Amanda's weakness is living in a sort of dream world which overwhelms her intentions of being a "Great Mother" (Thompson 17).

A second critic, Joseph K. Davis, takes the stance that Laura's weakness overpowers her ability to be sensitive. Davis divides the dramatic pattern of The Glass Menagerie into two parts. Part of the pattern is "the dramatization of men and women by a display of their fragmented, tortured psychologies" (Davis 192). He states in his analysis of The Glass Menagerie: "His [Tom's] sister Laura tries to live in the present, but her crippled body and grim prospects in the secretarial school overcame her fragile sensibilities" (194). Davis implies that, like Amanda, Laura's weakness consumes her ability to live in reality and her sensibility, her one strength.

A third critic, Tom Scanlan takes the stance that Tom's weakness is overcome by his strength. Tom is easily entrapped and persuaded into situations that he may or may not want to be which weakens his character but his strength is greater than this weakness. The critic states that "the reappearance of Tom as narrator force the reader back to the present" (Scanlan 99). He shows the reader that Tom's strength is the ability to keep in touch with reality.
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