The Glass Menagerie Research Papers Example
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Tennessee Williams probably is one of the best playwrights of the period after the World War II. He had an exceptional talent to portray the social and political conflicts of the modern society and the people’s state in his works. That is why his plays seem to be so realistic for the reader. Williams reached the summit of popularity in 1945, after the appearance of The Glass Menagerie. In total, in his career, he wrote more than twenty plays. The Glass Menagerie was the historic book. It helped the author with a distinguishing voice to become a playwright of the worldwide-scale. In his works, Williams presents a bright portrayal of the American life in the period of the first half of the twentieth century. It is notable that he also made some experiments concerning the dramatic methods. The thing was that Williams divided up the play into seven parts. He did not use any act division. He also made some experiments with an onstage screen and light. The aspects listed above made the play rather distinguishing.
Tom’s introductory speech starts the play. In fact, Tom here plays the narrator’s role, who addresses the audience and introduces it to the characters. He also talks about their life background and explains the philosophy of the play. Thus, Williams set him to play two roles. The play is not much saturated. In the work, almost everything is the revelation of Tom’s point of view. His speeches mostly are about the other related characters of the play. Williams portrayed all the heroes as ones, who are obsessed with their current state. For example, Amanda is deserted by her husband in the situation of almost absolute poverty. He left her struggling with two children (Williams 24). One of them, Tom, wants to have a successful career of the poet, but currently works at a shoe factory.
Laura lives in her personal imaginary world of “glass menagerie” because of her physical incapacity she has almost no hope to find a husband. Therefore, all characters try to find some shelter in order to hide from their current condition and past memories exactly are that kind of refuge. Moreover, memory is completely connected to the character’s desires. For an instant, Amanda gets a scope to slight the current condition by recalling the position in the Blue Mountain. Actually, Laura is the symbol of the “glass animals”. It may be explained by her timid and brittle nature (Ehrenhaft 10).
The modern world scares her and Laura decide to live with her collection. It is remarkable that there are not many Laura’s memories in the play. Tom also was obsessed by his current state during the depression (Bloom 9). It also was caused by his father decision to leave his family with no money. However, he has an innumerable influence on the recollection of the rest of Wingfield heroes. Despite the fact, Amanda ironically thinks that he is responsible for her failure, she always remembers him as if he was a part of her cheerful life (Bloom 3).
Nevertheless, Amanda sees the same features like an alcoholic nature and a desire of adventures in her son. Finally, she appears to be afraid of their destructive and insecure life. Williams also used some stage aspects in order to transform the drama to a memory play. For example, the disconnected nature of memory is intensified by using the episodic structure. All scenes are complete by their nature. Another significant thing about the play is the use of light. The playwright uses only a dull light to create the misty atmosphere of memory.
In addition, very important is the use of a theatre screen in order to project the legends and images. It may be interpreted as a line that divides a memory and real life, the reality and unreality. Another device that was used in the play and had a significant influence on its success is music. From time to time, it is an essential part of the action.
An example of another play where music plays a significant part is the ply “The Death of a Salesman” of another famous American playwright Arthur Miller. In both plays, music creates the wistful atmosphere of the play (Williams 54). However, there still is a difference between those two works. The thing is that memory in Miller’s play was used only as a technique, whereas in “The Glass Menagerie” another author used it not only as a technique but also as the theme of the play. Nevertheless, the socio-political theme of the modern American society is also significant for Williams’ play.
“The Glass Menagerie” tells the reader about the period of Great Depression in America and a solving economy. That is why it may be said that Williams’ play also reflects on the state of the middle class in the current society. Practically, the economic system of America from the very beginning of the 20th century depended on the productive abilities of several industries. Many people from country areas came to America in order to find a job and possible material fortune. However, only a small part of them was succeeded in attaining their desires.
The existing system simply exploits them. In addition, during the whole period of Great Depression country’s economic went through a quite hard times. The productive capacity of the country was not commensurable to people’s ability to purchase. Therefore, factories shut down with a shattering of the economic system. The result was a catastrophic unemployment. The worst was a state of the middle class and immigrants. Practically, they all have lost their personality. Finally, they were searching their originality. Actually, Tennessee Williams compares the working class with bees like the people who live within the hives.
However, here, every character is not only obsessed with his own state, they all try to escape from it. In other words, their goal is to go back to their happy life simply using memory and cravings. It may be said that all things listed above move them to their American Dream. There are many similar definitions for the American Dream; however, practically, it means that a person with a help of hard work may embody his desire to be happy and successful. Of course, this idea is much older than America.
Amanda wants to see her lovely children successful and happy in the current society. However, despite the fact that she thinks her children are extraordinary, she keeps on ignoring their personal features (Kolin 38). Amanda projects her strivings on them to realize own plans and desires. Sometimes she is represented as a controlling instance over the children. When the first attempt to secure Laura’s future was failed, Amanda took another decision to find a hard working gentleman for her daughter (Ehrenhaft 8). It somehow refers to Mr. Wingfield, the father of Laura.
Amanda even tries to count a needed sum of money for Laura’s wedding. Tom’s treatment is not different from it. His mother thinks that Tom may bring a security and success to the family. Amanda simply ignores the fact that Tom does not like his work at shoe company and wants to change his lifestyle. She also gives him advices regularly. Actually, Amanda sees her husband in Tom. The interesting fact is that Tom’s desires oppose the materialistic part of the concept of American Dream. He thinks that he is losing his individuality while working at the shoe factory. In addition, he desires to have a successful career of a poet. He also thinks that adventure will be that corresponding thing that will help him to reach his goal by giving him some experience and knowledge. Tom sees the point only in escaping from the real world to the world of fantasy and wishes. Therefore, Tom is the only character in “The Glass Menagerie” who has anti-capitalistic position. For others, the American Dream is like a myth that relates to their memory.
“The Glass Menagerie” is a play with the memory theme. However, it also has some kinships with the author own life. Such similarities are Williams’ childhood name and the name of the narrator. They both also lived in St. Louis and Williams also worked at a shoe factory. He wanted to become a successful author. In addition, his father left his family too. It is possible to call the play a tragedy. However, if it is so then who is the tragic character in “The Glass Menagerie”? Maybe it is Laura that as a matter of fact is an innocent creature. Own weakness simply destroyed this creature. Therefore, why cannot Tom be the tragic hero? He could not avoid his role of a substitute father for his family. It does not matter how hard he tries. Alternatively, maybe the tragic person is Amanda. She is lost living in her imagined world of past and sees no possibility to find a way living without her husband that left her. There may be no exact answer. Probably, will be better to define them all as tragic and broken.
Bloom, Harold. Tennessee Williams's the Glass Menagerie. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988. Print.
Ehrenhaft, George. Tennessee Williams's the Glass Menagerie & a Streetcar Named Desire. Woodbury: Barron's Educational Series, 1985. Print.
Kolin, Philip C. Tennessee Williams: A Guide to Research and Performance. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1998. Print.
Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. New York: New Directions, 2011. Print.
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