In the Dust

1515 Words7 Pages
It is a recurrent theme in both politics and literature that many people defined as “weak,” whether due to physical or mental impairment, are left behind in the wake of society, forgotten and trampled like blossoms in the dust. It is a commonly accepted idea, but one not often thoroughly explored. However, because of the mastery of Tennessee Williams, John Steinbeck, and Charlotte Brontë, this faint wisp of a theme transforms into a palpable flesh-and-blood vessel for a powerful statement on the human condition. Through the vivid images of a girl made of glass, a gentle giant, and a madwoman locked in the attic, these three virtuosos of literature depict the prey of society as acutely human. Because of their various disabilities, Laura Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men, and Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre are dealt unjust fates by society. They endure their punishments until, inevitably, they each crack beneath the pressure and finally shatter, the shards scattered beyond hope of retrieval, for the human soul can only withstand so much. Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie revolves around the haunting image of a girl whose dreams are shattered by a callous society that cannot even hope to understand her. She is Laura Wingfield, the damaged, delicate older sister of the play’s narrator, Tom. Williams describes Laura as having “a fragile, unearthly prettiness” and that “she is like a piece of translucent glass touched by light, given momentary radiance, not actual, not lasting” (51). The comparison to glass is quite fitting, for Laura is strange yet lovely, elusive like a creature from another world, a world more fanciful and less robust than reality. She is crippled and more susceptible to ill... ... middle of paper ... ... for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself” (366). Jane’s words, and by extension Brontë’s, are a clear adulation of solitude and independence, but also serve subliminally as an incisive indictment of matrimony. It is as though Jane fears not only an unlawful marriage, but also the thought of enduring a trajectory similar to Bertha’s, dragged through the gauntlet of marriage, left raw and ragged. As with Laura Wingfield and Lennie Small, there is no happy ending to be found for Bertha Mason, with her tortured life at last consumed amidst the hungry flames of Thornfield Hall. Through Bertha, Brontë paints a fleeting, shadowy portrait of a woman’s life in a cruel, sexist society. Works Cited The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

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