The Glass Menagerie, written by playwright Tennessee Williams, is the story of a family torn apart by heartbreak from the past and tragedy from the present. Williams' parallels this play to his true life experience with his own family, which makes The Glass Menagerie an even more tragic version of what happens to a family when love is lost and abandonment is reality. Providing for a family can be an overwhelming responsibility, for there are many pitfalls along the way, some families are able to cope, some are not, and The Glass Menagerie gives us insight into what truly happens to a family when faced with abandonment.
The story begins in The Wingfield apartment in the rear of a building, which can only be entered by a fire escape. A picture hangs on the living room wall of Mr. Wingfield, who took flight from his family when the children were very small. As Tom, the son recounts, "Father was a telephone man who fell in love with long distances; he gave up his job with the telephone company and skipped the fantastic out of town." There are three main characters throughout this play. Amanda, the mother, is unable to forgive herself for the poor judgement of character she made as a young lady ultimately leaving a lonely, bitter and fearful future for herself and her children. She so dearly loves her children. Tom is a man with dreams of a future but is stifled into a world of disgust and guilt by his overbearing mother. He is a poet at heart, stuck in a job at a shoe factory trying to make ends meet, bearing the responsibility of his younger sister, and all the while dreaming of a life of his own.
Although Amanda is quick to let Tom know how much she dearly hates him working at t...
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...f this gesture accidentally knocks over the figurine and it too breaks. Laura makes an attempt to recover herself, and for a fleeting moment all seems well, until Jim announces he has another woman in his life, and awkwardly excuses himself; leaving Laura forever silenced before the broken glass. These two moments in time that portray the essence of this story; the darkness and despair, the shattering of human life, and the failure to mend.
The Glass Menagerie is a gripping story, one that will leave many who view it with the feeling that Williams' was actually writing about their own lives. The power to overcome the feeling of hopelessness, betrayal, abandonment, and difference is within us all, but not all of us can escape from our past.
Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. University of North Carolina at Pembroke. October 31, 1997.
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