Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie as a Tragedy Essay

Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie as a Tragedy Essay

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Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie as a Tragedy

The Glass Menagerie has, of course, been labelled as many different
types of play, for one, a tragedy. At first glance it is clear that
audiences today may, indeed, class it as such. However, if, looking at
the traditional definition of the classification 'tragedy', one can
more easily assess whether or not the Glass Menagerie fits under this

To do this I will be using the views of Aristotle, the Greek
philosopher, who first defined the word 'tragedy' and in his views, a
tragedy contained certain, distinctive characteristics. His work was
written in between 384 and 222 BC, and his views were taken on by some
of the more traditional playwrights, such as William Shakespeare. As I
develop through this essay, it will be clear to see how Shakespeare's
tragedies indeed fit into Aristotle's definitions.

To begin with, in order for a play to be a tragedy, it must involve
'an action that is serious' Aristotle argues. I believe that, in
relation to the Glass Menagerie, it is certainly one that William's
has used, as the whole situation that the Wingfields find themselves
in does appear to be very serious indeed. The world is looming upon
World War II, and America has hit the Great Depression. The whole of
the United States is stricken by poverty. Therefore, it is not only
the Wingfield family, but indeed all families, who are in this serious
To add a little more detailed analysis into the actual characters, I
would suggest that they each have their own very serious, almost
disturbing problems. To begin, Tom has an unnatural desire to escape,
and leave his famil...

... middle of paper ...

...e play. The whole of Amanda's existence is to find
a gentleman caller, through Tom, for her daughter. This is the main
point of the play, involving every character, and which, when not
accomplished, tears the family apart.

Therefore, I would argue that time, place and action of the play are
actually fairly united, even though it does not appear this way at

After examining Aristotle's views I would define the play as tragedy.
Although the Glass Menagerie does not consist entirely of his views,
the main points are clearly there, as I have discussed, and
consequentially agree with the critic's argument.

Works Cited:

Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. In Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing, 4th ed. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1995. 1519-1568.

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