Analysis of Scenes 4-5 of The Glass Menagerie

Analysis of Scenes 4-5 of The Glass Menagerie

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Analysis of Scenes 4-5 of The Glass Menagerie        


      "Tom Fishes in his pockets for his door key, removing a motley assortment of articles in the search, including a shower of movie ticket stubs and an empty bottle.  At last he finds 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."


      Tom is a character that is constantly looking for individuality and adventure.  Unfortunately, his everyday life cannot provide those for him.  The apartment building he lives in is comparable to a bee hive.  Every member's identity is lost not intentionally, but because it is second in importance to labor.  He wants time to retire in thought every now and then and express himself somehow.  All this labor supresses his creative nature whose persistency will eventually win over his practical side.  In this scene, we see Tom searching for a key in his pocket.  The contents of his pocket, one can argue, are filled with ways to escape his everyday life.  The movies he attends are like therapy sessions that are crucial to his health.  The empty bottle suggests that he was drinking that night.  Tom abuses alcohol to alleviate some of the pain caused by other people abusing him.  The key he is looking for cannot be found readily; not because it fell through the crack, but because he cannot escape his fait.  Circumstances incarcerate him in and endless cycle of work, abuse, and supression of thought.  There is no apparent way out of such a predicament, but Tom has to keep looking for the key.


      "Tom:  You know it don't take much intelligence to get yourself into a nailed-up coffin, Laura.  But who in hell ever got himself out of one without removing one nail?"


      Tom openly admits to Laura that he is very unhappy with his life.  Laura has been known to cry because Tom feels trapped in the appartment, but Amanda dismissed it as nonsense.  She thinks it is a trivial matter, and that Tom should stop thinking about himself so much.  What she doesn't realize is that she is the one always thinking about herself.

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  Tom is the workhorse that has given up all his dreams to support a family abandoned by the father.  Amanda on the other hand wants to live her dissapointing life through Laura.  Although Laura is an extreme introvert, it is apparent that her mother was deprived when she was young.  She makes up all these stories about gentlemen callers because she was traumatized by the loneliness and hardships she had to suffer. 


      "Amanda:  Man is by instinct!  Don't quote instinct to me!  Instinct is something that people have got away from!  It belongs to animals!  Christian adults don't want it!"


      Tom is different from his mother.  One of the reasons why they come into conflict is because Tom, at his age, has a rebelious tendency towards adults, especially when he is inhibited and frustrated.  Amanda is hypocritical in the respect of satisfying instinct.  Her old and obsolete ways lack sensitivity and attention to detail.  She is an epitome of old mentalities in every aspect of her character.  At that low level in society it is hard to find stimulation for the complex mind.  She doesn't understand that Tom needs these getaways.  He is at a delicate point mentally, and if he wants to satisfy instinct, he shouldn't be stopped by these shallow arguments, considering the amount of work he provides for the family.  She is also hypocritical in the Christian respect.  She often uses the phrase "christian martyr" to describe her sympathy for her subscribers.  This trite remark detracts from the respect she should be showing towards her faith as a Christian.    


      "Across the alley from us was the Paradise Dance Hall." "This was the compensation for lives that passed like mine, without any change or adventure." "All the world was waiting for bombardments!"


      If across from them is Paradise, then the implication is that where they lived can be associated with a punishing inferno.  The type of entertainment offered to his generation is a fabricated assortment of liquor, bars, dance halls, movies and sex.  These were the desperate and corrosive distractions men had to settle for.  The change that everybody has been craving so badly all these years is about to come.  This change would come to them in bad times, and it would be like a kick to the already down people.  The first world war would turn the boring and hard times into periods of hellish torture.  Tom could not have been born at a worse time, because it is quite likely he would have to fight in the war.


      "She lives in a world of her own - a world of little glass ornaments, Mother ... "


      Laura's attitude towards life is pesimistic to the extent that she lies about her failures.  It is not her style to get involved in life any more than she is.  She went through high school as a shunned child, forced to dream about what other kids must feel like.  Her social phobia kept her from interacting with other kids, and this kept her from achieving goals.  Most likely she is affected by her parents splitting up, but whatever the case may be, she fails at every attempt at integration into society, and uses her glass menagerie to fall back on as an artificial social life support.  Her immage, created by her body crouching over the carefully layed out pieces of glass with the care of a mother, gives one the impression she is a child struck by some kind of mental disorder.     




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