The Glass Menagerie is a play written by Tennessee Williams. The play revolves around a wife with two children. Apparently the father of the children abandoned the family. The woman is called Amanda, the daughter Laura and the son is called Tom. Tom is the sole breadwinner of the family and we also realize that the sister is crippled after some childhood illness. The Glass Menagerie has been used symbolically as the topic of the play. As the play is climaxing we realize that the Glass Menagerie falls down and the glasses scatter on the floor. This symbolizes the fragility that exists within the family. The daughter is fragile apparently because of the low esteem caused by being disabled, the son is fragile because he is tired of being the breadwinner and he is also tired of his controlling mother and the mother is fragile because she is constantly worried about her children. The play is recited by Tom but the general realization is that the playwright mostly uses Amanda to build on the plot. Essentially, drama is about creativity and analysis of a particular drama will clearly bring out various aspects of creativity. This paper will look at the drama by Tennessee Williams called the Glass Menagerie and how she uses the character of Amanda to build on the plot of the play.
Although, the person who recites the play is Tom, there is a general realization that most of the play revolves around Amanda and she is the one the playwright uses to build on the plot of the play. Amanda is a mother of two children; Tom and Laura. From the play we realize that Amanda’s husband had left the family. Amanda laments in Scene 1 that: “…could have been Mrs. Duncan J. Fitzhugh, mind you! But- I picked your father!” (Virtualtheatre). Amanda’s character is very crucial to the play as it helps in the understanding of other characters. In Scene 1 we realize that Amanda likes to be in control and loves when things are done in an orderly manner. Amanda insists that Tom has to be on the table before they say the grace, wants Tom to chew his food properly and tells Tom that she smokes too much. From this controlling nature we realize that Tom is just the opposite of his mother. Tom does not like to be told how to do things. In Scene 1, Tom says that: “I haven’t enjoyed one bite of this dinner because of your constant directions on how to eat it.” (Virtualtheatre).In Scene 3 Tom complains to his mother that: “It seems unimportant to you, what I’m doing – what I want to do – having a little difference between them!” (Virtualtheatre).It is through Amanda that we realize that Tom has a quick temper. Amanda says that: “Temperament like a Metropolitan star.” (Virtualtheatre). In Scene 3 Amanda actually manages to bring out the temperament of Tom during the argument. The argument is actually an outburst of a long disagreement between Amanda and Tom. We hear Amanda accusing Tom of going out in the night under the pretence that he is going to the movies, while he is going to take drugs and involve himself in criminal activities.( Virtualtheatre). Amanda says that:
I think you’ve been doing things that you’re ashamed of. That’s why you act like this. I don’t believe that you go every night to the movies. Nobody goes to the movies night after night. Nobody in their right mind goes to the movies as often as you pretend to. (Virtualtheatre).
It is through Amanda’s argument with Tom that we realize how frustrated he is because he does not even like the job he is doing and he is apparently tired of being the breadwinner.
Amanda also helps in bringing out the character of Laura. Laura is crippled and she is very self conscious of this fact. Although Amanda tries to ignore this fact by assuring Laura that she will get male suitors, Laura is not the least convinced. In Scene 1 Laura outlines that: “It isn’t a flood, it’s not a tornado, Mother. I’m just not popular like you were in Blue Mountain.” (Virtualtheatre). Apparently Amanda wanted to give the excuse that the reason for lack of male suitors for Amanda is that there might be floods of a tornado. From the conversation between Amanda and Laura in Scene 2 we are able to realize that Laura has been skipping school. Amanda says that: “all the dates you were absent until they decided that you had dropped out of school.” (Virtualtheatre). From the conversation we also realize that Laura is a very sensitive girl. According to Amanda, the typing instructor described Laura as being shy. Amanda says that: “…that terribly shy little girl who dropped out of school…” (Virtualtheatre). We also realize that Laura is a very sensitive girl. This is because when she was asked to take the speed test she became so nervous that she was unable to do the test and even fell sick. The typist instructor tells Amanda that Laura had to be literally carried to the washroom.
In building the plot the playwright uses the character of Amanda to outline various aspects of the society where the play is set. Amanda explains how during her times girls knew had to talk and how she would often get male suitors. Amanda says that: “Among my callers were some of the most prominent young planters of the Mississippi Delta – planters and sons of planters!” (Virtualtheatre). Although one can sense some aspect of exaggeration, it is easy to realize that most courtships were initiated by males and females had to wait until the males made the move. The female would then choose the best male.
Amanda also depicts some aspect of fragility to go with the topic of the play. After passing by Laura’s school we see a woman who is so disappointed to the point of breaking down. Through, her actions where she constantly draws her handkerchief, makes nervous expressions and even counts to ten and then to five, at least to compose herself, we realize that she is indeed fragile. We can also see the fragility when Laura says that: “when you’re disappointed, you get that awful suffering look on your face, like the picture of Jesus’ mother in the museum!” (Virtualtheatre).
Although it seems as if Tom is the one narrating the play, there is the realization that the playwright intended for Amanda to be the major contributor in building the plot. The playwright uses Amanda introduce the major conflict in the play which is her disappointment with both Tom and Laura. It is Amanda who discovers that Laura has not been attending school and decides to confront her. It is also Amanda who decides to confront Tom on his disappearance every night. Eventually all hell breaks loose as Tom retaliates angrily and ends up dropping Laura’s glass collection. Everybody in the play is fragile and the falling off of glass symbolizes ultimate fragility because at this point the fragility of everyone is known to the audience.
Virtualtheatre. The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. 2007. Web.