Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie
If The Glass Menagerie were performed without the effects Williams
wrote into the script, then the play would barely have a plot.
Williams' use of music, lighting and a television screen add depth and
meaning to the play. He uses effects to portray the feelings of the
characters, rather than their words or actions.
In Tom's opening speech he states that'The play is memory.' Because it
is about his memories of his mother and her memories. They both spend
the play living in the past.
Tom is obviously living in the past because the play is based around
'post-war Tom's' memories of his life prior to the war when he was
living with Amanda and Laura.
Amanda seems to be divided between her world as an abandoned mother of
two, and her youth back in Blue Mountain. When Amanda first appears in
the play, so does the legend on the television screen 'Ou sont les
neiges' and later, 'Ou sont les neiges d'antan?' which means 'where
are the snows' and 'where are the snows of yesteryear?' this
emphasises the idea that Amanda is longing for the past. She then
begins to tell her children- and judging by Tom's reaction, for the
hundredth time- of her youth and her many gentlemen callers and how
wonderful her life was.
The Glass Menagerie is a very static play, the audience do not leave
the two rooms of their apartment and the characters lives are so
uninteresting the highest point of the play is when a gentleman comes
to the house for dinner. The family have become so consumed by the
pressure and worries of the American depression, that their lives have
become monotonous and lacklustre. Their struggle for survival is so
apparent, that their dreams and life have been oppressed and
unmotivated. Which explains both Tom's unhappiness and Amanda's
obsession with the past. Laura's Glass Menagerie is a symbol of the
family, it is static, fragile and without life. Laura loves the
security of her home life with Tom and Amanda, and when any change is
presented to her she goes to The Glass Menagerie for comfort. This is
apparent at the end of the first scene, when Amanda talking of
gentlemen callers for Laura. Laura is chronically shy and the idea of
change petrifies her, so immediately she seeks the solace of The Glass
Menagerie. And later, in scene two, Amanda has just confronted Laura
about the business college, and has come to the conclusion that 'Girls
that aren't cut out for business careers usually wind up married to
some nice young man. Sister, that's what you'll do!' Laura's immediate
reaction is to laugh nervously and then reach for a piece of glass.
Williams creates music that the audience associates with The Glass