Good Essay On Amanda Wingfield: An Atypical Hero

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Family, Children, Women, Mother, Parents, Heroism, Memories, Love

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/11/10

The complexities of meaningful literature mean that the hero hardly ever wears a strictly white hat, in the tradition of the Lone Ranger. Instead, heroes often wander through fields of moral muck on their way to emerging as the titans of their respective tales. This is why when Odysseus finally makes it home, the bodies of the rest of the men on his ship have all perished, either at the bottom of the sea or in the bellies of such horrors as Scylla or the Cyclops, and the king of Ithaca must create a charnel-house out of the men who pursued his wife in his absence, creating such a stench that the servants had to burn sulfur to improve the odor in the great hall. This is also why the travails of Bruce Wayne have become so much more emotionally authentic since the advent of the more sophisticated renditions of his character, beginning with the 1989 release of Batman and continuing the Christian Bale portrayals than they were in the kitschy hands of Adam West. In Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, many characters lay claim to heroism in the tale, but Amanda Wingfield emerges as someone in whom there “is much to admireand as much to love and pity as there is to laugh at. Certainly she has endurance and a kind of heroism, andthere is tenderness in her slight person” (781). This passage is excerpted from the character description Williams provides her before the play opens, and it indicates to the reader her role in the epic.
In a way, Amanda’s complexity is the source of her heroism. It informs her actions and the way she talks to her children. As a mother, she shows a zealous desire to watch her children do well in life. This means that she ends up pushing her children in the direction of what she views as success, in the process hurting her children even though her intentions are sound. The act of the pushing ends up concealing the love that she has for them, but that does not make her love any less intense. In a way, she loves her children almost too well, occasionally to the point where she smothers them – which may explain why her husband decided to leave. Her response to this, though, is to keep pushing them toward the ideal things she has come to know in her life, rather than toward things that do not contribute to those ideals. In Scene I, Amanda calls Tom to the table and provides some commentary on habits and manners, giving the reader his first look at Amanda as a mother. She provides correction for actions like mothers have traditionally done, but her delivery shows her own sense of importance: “Animals have sections in their stomachs which enable them to digest food without mastication, but human beings are supposed to chew their food before they swallow it downso chew your food and give your salivary glands a chance to function (p. 783). The use of sarcasm in the correction tends to conceal her positive emotions. However, she also shows an important factor from her own upbringing – namely, the idea that a variety of dishes is a sign of membership in the leisure class. Tom does not have a concept of the grand tradition of dinners in the South, which is why she uses a physical description of the eating process to couch her correction.
Amanda’s reminiscences about her many suitors are designed to aggrandize herself, as shown by their frequency. The comments that Tom and Laura make about her nostalgia show that Amanda takes many walks down Memory Lane. The varying attitudes that people show toward these memories build dramatic tension, as Tom has clearly built up a lifetime’s worth of ennui with regard to this story. At this point, of course, the viewer sees events through Tom’s point of view, which means that his distortions of memory are at play. His skepticism prompts him to question the importance or even the reality of her memories, but his influence is not helpful. The truth he is pursuing – that the suitors are nonexistent – would in actuality destroy Amanda. Laura’s response to her mother’s apocryphal tales is to humor her belief in them, rather than to destroy her illusion. The growing delusion of those tales appears when Amanda greets Jim wearing a dress she has pulled out of her trunk, from decades earlier, being just as flirtatious as she would have as a young girl. She remembers having suitors clamoring for her, none of whom were people to be taken lightly. She regales whatever audience is before her with tales of the lavish lifestyle that each one enjoyed, enjoying how much they desired attachment with her. However, she hits a rough spot when she has to address the consequences of the marital choice she made, because her desire to push everyone toward the ideal cannot abide failure – which was the outcome of her own marriage. That would eradicate the idealistic images that she prefers to recall. This internal battle appears when she says, “And then I – [She stops in front of the picture. MUSIC] MET YOUR FATHER! Malaria fever and jonquils and then—this—boy.I hope that they get here before it starts to rain (p. 800). Rather than pursue that memory further, she decides to change subjects and distract everyone from the most important elements – what she has yet to say. Even in this idealistic dotage, though, it is her fervent grasp on ideals that lend her an element of the heroic.
While Amanda drowns herself in adolescent memories, she fantasizes about similar occurrences coming true for her daughter, rather than acknowledging how the passing of time and the differences between herself and Laura would create different social outcomes for the two of them. At this point, Amanda develops an obsession with finding a husband for Laura, even putting together an entire scheme to do this that includes finding a job for herself. Her bold approach toward this, even though it is somewhat based in what may be most kindly described as self-delusion, keeps the heroic aspects of her character alive. The stage directions in the play’s last scene show this: “AMANDA appears to be making a comforting speech to LAURA who is huddled upon the sofa. Now that we cannot her the mother’s speech, her silliness is gone and she has dignity and tragic beauty” (p. 814). Now that the audience is no longer distracted by her actual dialogue, it is possible to view Amanda as a caring mother who is comforting and wants the very best for her children. It is the complexity of her rendition that shows the audience the true depths of her heroism.

Works Cited

Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. Masterpieces of the Drama. Ed. Alexander W.
Allison, Arthur J. Carr, Arthur M. Eastman. 5th ed. New York: Macmillan, 1986, pp. 779- 814.

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Good Essay On Amanda Wingfield: An Atypical Hero. Free Essay Examples - Published Nov 10, 2020. Accessed August 13, 2022.

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