Misguided Love in The Glass Menagerie
The Glass Menagerie, written by playwright Tennessee Williams, is the story of a family torn apart by heartbreak from the past and tragedy from the present. Williams' parallels this play to his true life experience with his own family, which makes The Glass Menagerie an even more tragic version of what happens to a family when love is lost and abandonment is reality. Providing for a family can be an overwhelming responsibility, for there are many pitfalls along the way, some families are able to cope, some are not, and The Glass Menagerie gives us insight into what truly happens to a family when faced with abandonment.
The story begins in The Wingfield apartment in the rear of a building, which can only be entered by a fire escape. A picture hangs on the living room wall of Mr. Wingfield, who took flight from his family when the children were very small. As Tom, the son recounts, "Father was a telephone man who fell in love with long distances; he gave up his job with the telephone company and skipped the fantastic out of town." There are three main characters throughout this play. Amanda, the mother, is unable to forgive herself for the poor judgement of character she made as a young lady ultimately leaving a lonely, bitter and fearful future for herself and her children. She so dearly loves her children. Tom is a man with dreams of a future but is stifled into a world of disgust and guilt by his overbearing mother. He is a poet at heart, stuck in a job at a shoe factory trying to make ends meet, bearing the responsibility of his younger sister, and all the while dreaming of a life of his own.
Although Amanda is quick to let Tom know how much she dearly hates him working at the shoe factory, she is just as quick to remind him the bills must be paid. Regardless of how much he sacrifices of himself, he continually must endure his mother's lack of regard for anything and everything he tries to do for her; nothing will satisfy her. Laura, crippled at birth, is so profoundly introverted, partly because of her handicap, but mostly because of her mother's inability to come to grips with her beautiful daughter's fragile state of mind. One evening at the insistence of Amanda, Tom brings a gentlemen caller, Jim, home for dinner; in hopes as Amanda puts it, that he will surely see how lovely her daughter is, and will ultimately win Laura's heart and take care of her for the rest of her life. Jim and Laura soon realize that they know one another from high school, and quickly establish a friendly conversation. Laura, for a brief moment, releases her shy and sullen personality and shares her precise glass figurines with Jim. Jim becomes infatuated by Laura, her innocence, her vulnerability, her quaint disability, and in a moment of passion, kisses her, only to realize his foolish gesture was a grave mistake; for his heart is already taken by another.
He awkwardly apologizes to Laura, and abruptly...