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"The Glass Menagerie"By Tennessee Williams. Essay

1506 words - 6 pages

People often spend a majority of their lives searching for acceptance. To be loved and admired by family and friends seems to be a priority. In this respect, the characters in Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie are no different from the rest of us. Tom Wingfield desperately wants his mother's and sister's approval. He willingly subjects himself to harsh living conditions and an unfulfilling job simply so that he can know that his family appreciates him (Hively). Taking care of his family provides a sense of accomplishment he would not have otherwise. Although Tom refers to himself as "the bastard son of a bastard" (Williams 80; sc. 6), he proves his generosity through his actions.In order for Tom to be a true imitation of his absent father, he is going to have to meet certain criteria. Amanda, Tom's mother, repeatedly adds items to the list of character traits possessed by her nonexistent husband. Tom will have to be a charmer because "One thing your father had plenty of--was charm (Williams 36; sc. 2)!" He will have to be able to convince people that he possesses an undeniable innocence because "That innocent look of your father's had everyone fooled (Williams 64; sc. 5)!" He will have to drink, take pride in his appearance, think of himself first, and fall in love with long distances because his father did. If he can do these things, then he will truly be the bastard son of a bastard that he wants to believe that he is. Tom's problem, however, stems from his inability to live up to the example that his father has set for him.In the simplest of terms, Tom is a nice person. He stays with his family for as long as he does merely because he would feel guilty if he were to leave. Tom realizes that his mother depends on his income to support herself and his sister Laura. He also realizes that Laura might not be able to cope with her life if he left. He knows that his relationship with Laura provides a feeble hold on reality for his sister. The problem is that staying for Laura and Amanda makes it impracticable for Tom to do what will make him happy. Although it seems ludicrous, this situation effectively traps Tom. In the heat of an argument, he tells his mother, "I've got no thing, no single thing -- in my life that I can call my OWN (Williams 39; sc. 3)!" Despite his helplessness to claim anything of his own, he still stays loyal to his frail sister and mother (Williams Library).Why does he put himself through the constant torment? His mother monitors his every move. His mother tells him how to eat, how to drink coffee, how to dress. Amanda refers to him as selfish on more than one occasion. It seems unfathomable that Tom could be considered selfish since as he "makes a slave of (himself)" to support the family (Williams 39; sc. 3). Is it selfish to want happiness for his sister? Although he would rather seek adventure, he chooses to stay with his family so that his sister has something to live for. When pushed too far, he tells his mother,...

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