For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls is Christopher Durang's hilarious 1994 parody of The Glass Menagerie, a 1945 play by Tennessee Williams. In both plays, the main characters must deal with several serious problems, including isolation, fear of the outside world, and the need for understanding. Whereas the characters in The Glass Menagerie handle their problems in a relatively serious manner, those in For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls take a more farcical approach. For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls offers an alternate view of the situations in The Glass Menagerie, and it comments on how the American society has changed since the 1940s. Durang's parody accomplishes its humor by developing extreme versions of the characters in The Glass Menagerie through magnification of their faults and idiosyncrasies: Laura's shyness toward the world, Amanda's lack of understanding for her children, Tom's anger with his family, and Jim's partial deafness (however minor in Williams' play).
It is more difficult to sympathize with Lawrence in For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls than with Laura in The Glass Menagerie because he is so much more irritating and pathetic than his female counterpart. Laura is a young woman who suffers from extreme shyness and self-consciousness because she has a slightly malformed leg and needs to wear a leg brace; consequently, she is afraid to talk to new people and enter new situations. Laura's psychological problems are amplified in Lawrence, who fakes several ailments, including asthma, eczema, and a crippled leg. He never leaves the safety of his house, and his only friends are his glass swizzle sticks, which he gives such names as "Q-tip" (1942), "Ther...
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...children's; in addition, Durang adds two homosexual characters: Tom and Ginny. This is evidence that For Whom the Belle Tolls does more than just provide a humorous approach to the situations in The Glass Menagerie: it shows how the American society and family have changed since Williams wrote his play. According to Durang, people have become more open with their personal feelings and sexuality, but they have also become more self-centered. Works Cited Durang, Christopher. For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls. Literature and Its Writers: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Eds. Ann Charters and Samuel Charters. Boston: Bedford Books, 1997. 1937-1948. Williams, Tennessee. "The Glass Menagerie." Literature and Its Writers: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Eds. Ann Charters and Samuel Charters. Boston: Bedford Books, 1997. 1704-1750.
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