Tennessee Williams' play, The Glass Menagerie, originated in the memory of Williams. Williams' family embodied his father, Cornelius Williams, his mother, Edwina Dakin Williams, his sister, Rose Williams, and his younger brother, Dakin Williams. Cornelius was an alcoholic, always away from home; Tennessee and Cornelius did not have a strong relationship, "By the late 1920s, mother and father were in open warfare, and both were good combatants. He came home drunk and picked up a bill-perhaps for Tom's clothing or schoolbooks-and he'd fly into rage."(Spoto, 18). Edwina, on the other hand, revered "refinement and the good manners of Southern gentry." (Barron's Book Notes, 2). Tennessee adored Rose immensely and were close as they could be. The Glass Menagerie is based on a mother and her two children who live in a dream world away from society. Williams' play is drawn heavily upon his family life and experiences; they are very much parallel to the events that occur in Williams' life.
Tom is modeled after Tennessee, an ardent poet who works in a shoe factory; Williams was passionate about writing, "He[Cornelius] saw that Tom devoted to his writing as unnatural for a boy his age… worse, Tom did not have companions among boys of his own age, not did he participate in
sports."(Leverich, 82). Tom tries to support his mother and sister by working in a shoe factory even though he dreams to become a poet. His mother disapproved of him writing as well as his father, "Despite Tom's being published, Cornelius persisted in his belief that his son was wasting his time and should be thinking of a more practical way of making a living."(Leverich, 82). Tennesse felt so doleful and devastatingly miserable that he did not know another way of escaping reality but to write, "At the typewriter he transformed the confusion, the bitterness, the longings into poems, and for a time he cracked out a diary in which he recorded little anecdotes about St. Louis street life."(Spoto, 20). Williams's character, in like manner, felt that same emptiness, "He[Tom] is a poet by nature and feels that his environment is destroying his creative abilities."(Cliff Notes, 9).
Amanda Wingfield mirror images Williams's mother, Edwina Dakin Williams. Both of these women...
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...'s Book Notes). Laura and Tom do not like the dismal atmosphere of the apartment, "The new apartment had only two small windows, in the front and in the rear rooms, and a fire escape blocked the smoky light from a back alley."(Spoto, 16). Tom uses the fire escape as a break from the real world, "As he climbs the few steps to the fire escape landing light steals up inside…At last he find the key, but just as he is about to insert it, it slips from his fingers. He strikes a match and crouches below the door."(Williams, 55).
Williams' play, The Glass Menagerie, is drawn heavily upon Williams' family life and experiences; they are very much parallel to the events that occur in Williams' life. Tennessee's and Tom's whole life revolved around their mother and sister. They were struggling with life's cruel realities which they were not able to face and defeat, but instead, ran away from. Tom can not lose his memories of Laura. He needed to find his own identity and try to find a place for himself in the world.(Barron's Book Notes). If he had stayed with his mother and sister, their illusions and dreams would have deceived him.
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