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Glass Menagerie Essay

1429 words - 6 pages

Williams' Masterful Use of Monologue and Dialogue to Define Characters and Punctuate Plot and Theme in the First Scene of The Glass Menagerie From Tom's opening monologue in The Glass Menagerie to Laura's apologetic admission of her mother's fear at the end of the first scene, Williams creates a masterful opening scene that clearly defines each character and sets up the plot and theme of the play through his use of Tom's introductory monologue and the exchange of dialogue between Tom, Amanda, and Laura at the dinner table. It is a well-crafted first scene that provides the audience with an understanding of the plot and the theme through Tom's characterizations and observations that present ...view middle of the document...

(Williams, 4) Tom's initial words introduce the audience to Tom as both narrator and a character in the play. By comparing himself to a magician, he is making reference to two things. First, Tom is foreshadowing his night out where he watches the magician escape from the coffin (Scene Four). This is the night that Tom commits himself to escaping and abandoning his family. In his role as narrator, Tom has finally realized his dream to escape his own coffin - the Wingfield home. Second, by claiming that he is "opposite of a stage magician", Tom is telling the audience that he is an honest narrator. Tom is not trying to deceive the audience the way a magician would, but Tom is offering the audience the truth as a narrator. It is as a character in the play that Tom is deceptive and has tricks up his sleeve such as his ventures to the movies and not paying the electric bill. And his reference to illusion is significant because it is one of the main themes of the play. Each member of the Wingfield family lives in their own world of illusion, hoping to escape the grim reality that defines their lives.Their reality is grim for a number of reasons thus lending to their reliance on illusion to alleviate their bleak lives. First, as Tom explains the social background of the play, they live amidst the Depression. Second, they live in a world removed from reality that is confined to the walls of their apartment. As Tom moves from the reality of the Depression to the unreality of their home life, Williams cues music. This is significant because as the play proceeds, the same, sentimental music is played when the characters exhibit a truthful hopelessness in the rare moments that they abandon illusion and realize their troubles within the tenement. Here, Tom's shift from the state of the world outside the apartment to the pitiful existence within the apartment is indicated by the music. The music signifies a departure from reality and an entrance into the sad existence of the Wingfields.Tom understands their unfortunate existence and sees their small connection to reality in Jim, the gentleman caller: He (the gentleman caller) is the most realistic character in the play, being an emissary from a world of reality that we are somehow set apart from"¦he is the long-delayed but always expected something we live for. (Williams, 5) Williams sets up expectation here through Tom's words. Like the Wingfields, the audience will expect the gentleman caller and hope that his connection to reality will shatter the glass that confines the Wingfields. Williams wisely introduces the theme of expectancy in Tom's monologue and creates a waiting game throughout the first scene.However, prior to building expectation through the exchange of dialogue between Tom, Laura, and Amanda, Williams cleverly closes Tom's monologue by revealing another key theme of The Glass Menagerie: escape. Every member of the Wingfield family is trying to escape their dismal lot:...

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