Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie

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An inability to accept one’s reality and the idea of telling a story through the memory and emotions of someone involve come into play in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. The Glass Menagerie is narrated by Tom Wingfield and tells the story of how he came to leave his mother, Amanda, and his sister, Laura. Amanda is an overbearing Southern women, stuck in the ways of the past and obsessed with finding her daughter the perfect “gentleman caller.” However, Laura is entirely anti-social and unable to cope with societal pressures, making her a tough candidate for a husband. Amanda’s overbearing and controlling nature creates tension between herself and Tom, who seeks adventure and freedom, but most provide for his family. Eventually, when a man from Laura’s past, Jim O'Connor, shows up for dinner, he turns out to not be the “gentleman caller” they all expected and ends up acting as the tipping point for Tom, who leaves the family behind. The story deeply delves into the idea of who people really are, what their lives have become, and the complexity of human nature.
1. It is easy to write Amanda off as the antagonist of The Glass Menagerie, but when considering whether or not she is the true villain or simply, a bad mother, the issue is truly unclear. At the root of everything, Amanda wants what is best for her children. She wants Tom to provide for a family, but still find happiness (just not at the bottom of a shot glass) and she wants Laura to have all the benefits of life that Amanda lost when her husband left. The problem when Amanda is that she is a “pusher” who is so stuck in both her youth and the ways of the past that she forces archaic and impossible expectations upon her kids. At the beginning of scene one she says “...

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...ion from biased memories. It also teaches an important lesson about how hard it can be to escape from those memories and the past, as wonderful or as awful as they may be. The way Tennessee Williams described actions in the play were lackluster and a bit confusing, but the writing itself is very strong. Through the monologues of Tom, Amanda and Jim and the clear nervousness in Laura’s monologues, the sense of each of the characters is powerful. For that reason, it is an important play for people to read, but will probably be found most interesting by literature aficionados and theatre people. In essence, The Glass Menagerie can feel a bit dry and slow-paced at times, but creates wonderful imagery and complex, concrete characters that reflect how people really are and how they really have a hard time letting go.

Works Cited

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
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