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Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie Essay

1152 words - 5 pages

An inability to accept one’s reality and the idea of telling a story through the memory and emotions of someone involve come into play in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. The Glass Menagerie is narrated by Tom Wingfield and tells the story of how he came to leave his mother, Amanda, and his sister, Laura. Amanda is an overbearing Southern women, stuck in the ways of the past and obsessed with finding her daughter the perfect “gentleman caller.” However, Laura is entirely anti-social and unable to cope with societal pressures, making her a tough candidate for a husband. Amanda’s overbearing and controlling nature creates tension between herself and Tom, who seeks adventure and freedom, but most provide for his family. Eventually, when a man from Laura’s past, Jim O'Connor, shows up for dinner, he turns out to not be the “gentleman caller” they all expected and ends up acting as the tipping point for Tom, who leaves the family behind. The story deeply delves into the idea of who people really are, what their lives have become, and the complexity of human nature.
1. It is easy to write Amanda off as the antagonist of The Glass Menagerie, but when considering whether or not she is the true villain or simply, a bad mother, the issue is truly unclear. At the root of everything, Amanda wants what is best for her children. She wants Tom to provide for a family, but still find happiness (just not at the bottom of a shot glass) and she wants Laura to have all the benefits of life that Amanda lost when her husband left. The problem when Amanda is that she is a “pusher” who is so stuck in both her youth and the ways of the past that she forces archaic and impossible expectations upon her kids. At the beginning of scene one she says “One Sunday in the Blue Mountain-your mother received-seventeen!-gentlemen callers!” (Glass scene one) and throughout the play, she pushes this idea upon Laura. However, Laura is so socially inept that it is nearly impossible for her to get just one caller to come to the Wingfield apartment. In regards to Tom, she worries of him ending up like his absent father and treats him more like a child, even though he is the only source of income for the family. Despite this, Amanda does what every good mother needs to do: she cares. Everything Amanda does, from sending Laura to business school to pushing Tom to better himself by taking classes or seeking a higher position at the shoe factory, is driven by love and overwhelming desire for her family to be happy. Even though she has a very pushy nature, she wants her children to get the best out of life.
4. One of the primary symbols in the Glass Menagerie is the fire escape and it symbolizes just that: an escape. Tom is the character that most frequently spends time on the fire escape, partially to do with his little smoking habit, but more to do with getting out the confines of the Wingfield apartment. Throughout the play, Tom is “escaping.” He does this by going to the movies,...

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