Glass Managerie Essay

1624 words - 6 pages

The Glass Menagerie is a memory play, and its action is drawn from the memories of the narrator, Tom Wingfield. Tom is a character in the play, which is set in St. Louis in 1937. He is an aspiring poet who toils in a shoe warehouse to support his mother, Amanda, and sister, Laura. Mr. Wingfield, Tom and Laura's father, ran off years ago and, except for one postcard, has not been heard from since.full title · The Glass Menagerieauthor · Tennessee Williams (born Thomas Lanier Williams III)type of work · Playgenre · Tragedy; family dramalanguage · Englishnarrator · Tom Wingfieldpoint of view · Tom both narrates and participates in the play. The older Tom remembers his youth and then becomes a younger Tom who participates in the action as scenes from his youth play out. The point of view of the older Tom is reflective, and he warns us that his memory distorts the past. The younger Tom is impulsive and angry. The action sometimes consists of events that Tom does not witness; at these points, the play goes beyond simply describing events from Tom's own memory.tense · The play uses both the present and past tenses.setting (time) · Tom, from an indefinite point in the future, remembers the winter and spring of 1937.setting (place) · An apartment in St. Louisclimax · Each character's struggle comes to a climax at different points. Tom's decision not to pay the electric bill and to use the money instead to leave his family in search of adventure reveals his initial, decisive break from his family struggles. When Jim breaks the horn from Laura's glass unicorn and announces that he is engaged, the possibility that he will help her overcome her self-doubt and shyness is also destroyed. When Amanda discovers that Jim is engaged, she loses her hope that Laura will attain the popularity and social standing that Amanda herself has lost.themes · The difficulty of accepting reality; the impossibility of true escape; the unrelenting power of memorysymbols · Laura's glass menagerie; the glass unicorn; "Blue Roses"; the fire escapeThe Wingfield apartment faces an alley in a lower-middle-class St. Louis tenement. There is a fire escape with a landing and a screen on which words or images periodically appear. Tom Wingfield steps onstage dressed as a merchant sailor and speaks directly to the audience. According to the stage directions, Tom "takes whatever license with dramatic convention is convenient to his purposes." He explains the social and historical background of the play: the time is the late 1930s, when the American working classes are still reeling from the effects of the Great Depression. The civil war in Spain has just led to a massacre of civilians at Guernica. Tom also describes his role in the play and describes the other characters. One character, Tom's father, does not appear onstage: he abandoned the family years ago and, except for a terse postcard from Mexico,...

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