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"The Glass Menagerie" is a play about intense human emotions; frustration, desperation, sadness, anger, shyness, and regret. Perhaps the most intense scene in the play is when a gentleman caller, Jim O'Connor, finally does come. All of their futures hang in the balance during this scene. Laura is actually drawn out of her shyness with someone besides her family, and she actually begins to feel good about herself.
If Jim had not been engaged to someone else the outcome of the play may have been different. If he had been free to love her, he may have continued to call on her, drawing her out of her shell and raising her self-esteem. They may have eventually married, giving Laura a husband to love her, making Amanda happy, and making Tom free to leave and live his own life. Laura is very nervous when Jim comes to the door. Amanda pleads with her to open it. Besides her words differing somewhat from the play text, she does not try to stall Jim and Tom by calling out lyrically, "Coming! Just one second."
Laura's meeting with Jim at the door is just as I imagined it while reading the play, his demeanor casual and friendly, and her shyness painfully obvious. After entering the house Tom goes out on the terrace, but he does not light his cigarette before going out as the play directs, and he also continues to read his paper once he is on the terrace, which the play says nothing about.
Another difference that was instantly apparent in the movie was the absence of the images that pop up every couple of pages during the play. I think the absence of these images slightly undermines the aura of unreality. The presence of the images represents dreams and imagination, which we know are made up, fantasy. The absence of the dreamlike images helps us forget what Tom says at beginning of the play, "the play is memory. Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental, it is not realistic."
As Tom is still speaking to Jim in the movie, he does not lean over the rail with the appearance of a voyager as he says, "I'm planning to change.", as he is supposed to in the play, neither does he wave his hand toward the movie theatre as he speaks of it.
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The absence of the music in the movie also takes away from the unrealistic tone of the play. Everyone knows that in real life music does not play to complement your feelings and situations, only in dreams and stories.
I don't think that Jim is portrayed quite as bold in the movie as he seems to be in the play, although after dinner he seems much more comfortable. When Laura mentions his singing, in the movie, no voice recites lyrics in the background as directed in the play, and when Laura shows him the yearbook and reminds him of playing the lead in a play he begins to sing, something he doesn't do in the play.
Another thing that caught my attention was that even though there were several script discrepancies between the play and the movie, Jim takes out his gum after saying the exact words he says in the play. The indiscrepancies soon begin again though when he doesn't observe himself in the mirror, and then continues to look in the mirror while straightening his tie as the play instructs. He doesn't look at himself in the mirror at all during the movie, although he does several times during the play. Laura becomes embarrassed when Jim begins to tell her she's pretty and her hands are pretty. In the play he takes hold of her hand as he says these things, but in the movie he makes no move toward her until he says, "Somebody ought to kiss you Laura."
The actions immediately after the kiss were completely different from the play directions. Laura doesn't sit on the sofa, Jim doesn't light a cigarette, Laura doesn't still hold the glass unicorn in her hand, and although Tom offers her a mint as he does in the play, he doesn't eat one.
The only song that was finally sung that was supposed to have been was Amanda's lemonade song. Laura becomes sad when Tom tells her he's engaged and he becomes embarrassed and anxious to leave. In the play directions when Tom leaves it describes it as such, 'He grins and ducks jauntily out', making him seem as if he is trying to portray a light mood about the whole evening. In the movie Jim looks sad and almost wistful, as if wishing that circumstances were different as he leaves the house, leaving Laura behind forever.