Ignorance Of Laura Wingfield’s Disabilities In The Glass Menagerie

3823 words - 15 pages

The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, is a play set in 1937 that highlights the memory of Tom Wingfield’s time at home with his sister and mother, Laura and Amanda. Tom’s adult sister, Laura, is still living at home: unable to complete her education, get a job, or meet a husband. Due to the fact that Tom and Laura’s father left them when they were young, Amanda pushes Laura to be a successful homemaker since Amanda failed at having a complete family. Amanda wishes for Laura to meet a husband, and pushes her repeatedly to talk to men and socialize with gentleman callers. Finally, it seems that Amanda’s dream for Laura might come true when Tom brings his friend from work over from dinner, Jim O’Connor. Laura and Jim went to high school together, and Laura is unable to socialize with him out of fear and anxiety. In addition, Laura has a crippled leg and walks with a limp as a result of a childhood malady. The limp further contributes to her lack of self-confidence. The Glass Menagerie accentuates Laura’s difficulty growing up and her failure to fill her mother’s high expectations. Laura’s inability to transition successfully to adulthood by graduating high school, succeeding at job training, or building new social relationships outside her immediate family is due to her mental health issues, including a genetic predisposition to anxiety disorder and Asperger’s, which are exacerbated by her physical disability and the overbearing and inappropriate actions of her mother.
Laura is unable to successfully move on from childhood to take on adult responsibilities. Laura is twenty-three years old (Williams 78) and still has not been able to transition to adulthood. Becoming an adult entails finishing a primary education, getting a job, and making a family, which Laura is unable to do. Laura was unable to complete the important milestone of graduating high school. When Laura and Jim are talking about what they have been doing since high school, Laura is embarrassed to admit that she never completed her degree. She says to him, “I made bad grades on my final examinations” (Williams 79). For this reason, she never went back to high school (Williams 79). Graduating high school is a large part of moving on to adulthood. Without her diploma, Laura never closed a chapter of her life, and left her primary education unfinished. Consequently, she is stuck between childhood and adulthood, unable to get a job.
Laura fails while trying to further her education, which she must do to get a job and support herself. Laura’s mother encourages her to take a typing class at a local business college so she can get a job (Williams 13), but her “attempts to launch Laura into a business career through sending her to a college are met with failure” (Zeineddine). Laura is given the opportunity to expand her abilities and develop new skills that will help her get a job, but is unable to complete the class. Shortly into the course, Laura “breaks down completely” while...

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