"The Glass Menagerie" Essay

"The Glass Menagerie" Essay

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The Glass Menagerie is what it states itself to be: “a memory play”. And, “being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental, it is not realistic” (Williams 5). In the very beginning of the play, it claims an air of foggy illusion- smeared on the windows of time and the narrator’s memory. The mystic undertones of Menagerie is essentially a tension in between the view of moving forward yet the truth of moving backward, suspended in between the realms of dream and destiny, balanced perfectly in the stop of time (“Symbol” 145). It reveals individuals not only fleeing from the truth of reality, but also fading into an escape of time and history. The play itself cannot be viewed in the way of direct action- the present is forgotten as it is too monstrous to be dealt with directly. The play depends on a balance of shadow and act- a movement that proves Williams’ theme of escape from time and history (Davis 194). In his production notes, Williams asks for non-realistic lighting to set off the events occurring in memory, therefore establishing a dream-like staging that only accents the play’s detachment from the present. It breaches the timidity which drives the characters to a forlorn fear that is only redeemed by enclosed fantasies and myths; however, it also fashions a poet scarred by guilt but exhilarated by his vocation (Bigsby 33). The final events in Menagerie mock the heartbreak of indulging in the kinds of behavior and thought that nullify the opportunity of a full life in the present (Davis 200). Separation from reality is in truth the singular theme of the play itself, weaving itself into the stage direction, dialogue, and acting. The characters live out the life of supernatural mentality, withdrawing into their...


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...ass looked away as the world starved before their very eyes (Stein). There is a strong feeling, not simply of animating fantasies, but of an America that has failed those who look for securities in their lives, and that those fantasies are themselves the stem of a destructive materialism or deceptive illusion. The Wingfields are victims of destiny, time, and of a destructive reality. Their lives of illusion bring them comfort, but eventually are the cause of their painful downward spirals into insanity, guilt, and helplessness. Given Amanda’s overly romantic show of idealized love and dreamy past, Jim’s visit was doomed to be a failure, emotionally crushing to Laura’s high hopes. Because of their lives of illusion and dreams, they set themselves up to fail in the face of reality. Therefore, the Wingfields mental withdrawals and lives of illusion became their defeat.

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