Analysis Of The Contradictory Life Of Tom Wingfield, The Main Character In The Play, The Glass Menagerie

1257 words - 5 pages

The play "Glass Menagerie" shows the contradictory life of its main character Tom Wingfield. He struggles with being a hard worker, a protector of his love ones, and a fulfiller of his dreams. Tom wishes for a sense of independence by escaping the pressures that come from his dysfunctional family life. Tom needs to feel a sense of adulthood. He feels like a child because his mother is constantly telling him what to do. Most people grow up, go to college, and move out of their parent's house. This is considered the normal thing to do. It gives young adults a sense of pride and independence. Tom needs to become a man and live life for himself. The Glass Menagerie is a tender, poetic, autobiographical play that the author Tennessee Williams based on members of his own family (World Book Online). It is apparent Tom is a fictionalized version of Williams and they may be similar in many ways.Taking care of his family provides a sense of accomplishment he would not have otherwise. Although Tom refers to himself as "the bastard son of a bastard," he proves his generosity through his actions (Williams 80). He longs for adventure and his heart lies in writing and poetry instead of his boring, dead-end job at the shoe company. He has ambitions, but is unable to pursue them because he doesn't want to leave his family. He feels that leaving would mean he's walking in his father's footsteps. His father deserted the family years before.Tom's mother, Amanda, raised him to be a true imitation of his absent father. She expected him to be charming and innocent like his father. He will have to drink; take pride in his appearance; think of himself first; and fall in love with long distances because his father did.Guilt and compassion for his family keeps Tom around. Tom realizes that his mother depends on his income to support herself and his sister Laura. He also realizes that Laura might not be able to cope with her life if he left. He knows that his relationship with Laura helps her cope with her sheltered life. Laura lives at home. She dropped out of Business school. She cannot handle stressful situations. She gets so nervous doing a test, she makes herself ill. Laura's collection of glass called the "Glass Menagerie" is her life. Her favorite piece is a unicorn. The situation gets worse for Tom and Laura as he is tasked by his mother to find Laura a mate before leaving them. He chose a co-worker named, Jim O'Connor to come home with him to serve as Laura's gentleman caller. He is outgoing and polite but comes across as inconsiderate when meeting Laura. It seems like he takes an interest in her. He dances with her and even gives her a tender kiss. Shortly after, he informs her that he is engaged. This crushed Laura who did not have much self esteem to begin with.Tom feels trapped by his responsibility to his family. He tells his mother, "I've got no thing, no single thing in my life that I can call my own (Williams, 39)!" Despite his helplessness to claim...

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