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The Glass Menagerie By Tennessee Williams

1569 words - 6 pages

Tennessee Williams lived a tragic life, similar to the type of plays he wrote. Williams was born March 26, 1911 in Columbus, Mississippi and given the name Thomas Lanier Williams, III. It wasn’t until he entered college at University of Missouri-Columbia did the journalism student obtain the name Tennessee. His college buddies gave him the name because of his southern accent. Williams portrayed the southern lifestyle in many of his plays. He lived in a dysfunctional family. Williams and his mentally ill sister were raised for the most part by their mother because his father spent so much time on the road as a traveling salesman. The rare times his father was home he was verbally abusive to Tennessee and was even accused of sexually molesting his daughter, Rose. Williams drew on that experience while writing his first big play, The Glass Menagerie. Each character in the play appears to parallel his own family. Amanda is viewed as a portrayal of William’s own mother. Laura has remarkable similarities to Rose’s inferiorities. Rose suffered from a mental illness that led to isolation from reality in a mental institution. Tom is believed to be a self portrayal of Tennessee Williams. The plays Williams wrote are complex in which the characters, “struggle with feelings of isolation.” Williams wrote in his production notes for The Glass Menagerie, “unconventional techniques in drama have only one valid aim, and that is a closer approach to the truth.” The truth in Williams’ life served as the content of many award winning plays, including two which won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. Williams died at the age of 71 in 1983.
In The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams portrays the life of the Wingfield family in St. Louis during the 1930’s. The family consists of the mother, Amanda, and her two adult children, Tom and Laura. Tom, the adventurous, creative son, is the protagonist of the play, while Amanda, the very determined controlling mother, is the antagonist. Amanda’s and Tom’s values frequently collide, and Laura often assumes the role of a peacemaker between her brother and mother when she is not retreating into her fantasy world. Another character in the play, Jim O’Connor, assumes the role of Laura’s gentleman caller. Jim tries to improve Laura’s self-confidence so that she can deal the world of reality. The main theme of The Glass Menagerie is the difficulty of accepting reality. Williams shows that you need some fantasy to deal with the harsh realities of life, but it is dangerous to live totally in a fantasy world. All of the main characters attempt to escape from the harsh realities of their lives through illusion. Amanda tries to escape by remembering the days of the past when she receives gentleman callers on Blue Mountain. Laura attempts to escape reality by viewing her glass figurines and playing old phonograph records. Tom attempts to escape reality by reading novels, writing poetry, going to the movies, drinking alcohol, and...

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