An Essay On Tennessee William's Play "The Glass Menagerie", Specifically Commenting On How The Father Is The Most Influential Character In The Play.

1795 words - 7 pages

No Father, No Play, No Glass Menagerie Mr. Wingfield is the embodiment of escape in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. Having abandoned his family years ago, Mr. Wingfield never appears onstage during the play and has not contacted his family, with the exception of a terse postcard from Mexico. Despite his absence, Mr. Wingfield is still an important part of the Wingfield family as his picture still hangs on the living room wall; a permanent reminder of better times. Tom, Laura and Amanda all believe that they can escape from the problems Mr. Wingfield's absence has created. In the end, though, no progress is made and the audience sees that none of the characters are able to make a clean break from their problems at hand. Although Mr. Wingfield is never on stage and has no dialogue, he is the play's most influential character because he leaves his family in a state of emotional dysfunction. Paradoxically, his main presence is his absence. Mr. Wingfield's abandonment of his family causes the characters of The Glass Menagerie to have difficulty in accepting the harsh reality of their situation, especially its financial insecurity. As a result, each member of the Wingfield family withdraws into a private world of illusion where he or she finds the solace that the real world does not seem to offer. Amanda remembers the glorious days of her youth, Laura plays with her glass menagerie and Victrola, and Tom has his dreams of adventure. Through the character of Mr. Wingfield, Williams uses the theme of escape throughout the play in order to demonstrate the hopelessness and futility of each character's dreams. Amanda is arrested in the past because of the absence of her husband. She cannot accept that she is no longer the Southern Belle she once was. In Scene 1, when Laura states that she does not expect a gentleman caller, Amanda launches into her "romanticized" Blue Mountain story that took place when she was younger. She emphatically states, "One Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain-your mother received - seventeen! - gentlemen callers" (8). After Amanda discusses all the successful admirers she had, she remarks, "But -- I picked your father" (9). Amanda, again, shields herself from reality with her past because she does not want to remain in her present situation of disappointment; she refuses to accept her transition from a pampered Southern belle to a struggling single mother about to lose her only remaining financial support in Tom. Tom, who narrates The Glass Menagerie through his own eyes, is able to escape without pity because of Amanda's actions. Because Mr. Wingfield forces Amanda to withdraw into the past, Amanda's worst fear, Tom leaving her, becomes true. She is left hopeless with her dreams of the past.Similarly, the abandonment of Mr. Wingfield forces Amanda to smother Tom and Laura so she could ensure "success and happiness for [her] precious children" (40). Amanda lives...

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