Written by Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie is a masterpiece and it passes as a memory play for it exposits Tom Wingfield’s thoughts. A wishful poet, brother to Laura, and son to Amanda and ever absent Mr. Wingfield; Tom works hard in a shoe store to provide for his mother and sister. Amanda on the other side is a complicated mother who regales her children in this moment and scolds them in the next. Amanda plays important role in Laura’s reticence and pathological shyness.
While she cannot be blamed for making her shy in the first place, she is to blame for making Laura’s continued shyness. Instead of supporting Laura emotionally, she goes out to look for quick fixes and material gains. First, she enrols her in a business school for her to earn some good fortune. After realizing Laura’s weakness has kept her out of school, she does not care to investigate the problem and settle it amicably; on the contrary, she resorts into finding her a fiance. These are uninformed decisions and she is to blame for Laura’s continued shyness.
If only Amanda were supportive, Laura would probably gain self-confidence and have high self-esteem. Amanda’s reminiscences on her youth in the South are not reliable. They are too overstated to be true. How can someone get seventeen callers in one afternoon? This is unrealistic; therefore, judged from this platform, Amanda’s reminiscences are treacherous. Throughout this play, there are different forms of music, movies, and legends. These elements create emotional impact in the play. The audience can connect with the main characters. For instance, the music and lightning used make the audience connect with Laura’s shortcomings, Amanda’s indifference, and Tom’s struggles.
This play suggests a repressed desire boiling under the surface. Tom holds this burning passion; he wants to get out there and explore the world. This burning desire explains why Tom visits a witchdoctor and finds a way of getting out of a coffin without the hustle of pulling any nail.
He coffin here represents Wingfield’s home. The object of Tom’s longing is to explore the world out there and this is why he plans to accompany Merchant Seamen to get out and explore the world. He says, “I am tired…movies tranquilize people, making them content to watch other people’s adventures without having any of their own…plan to join the Merchant Seamen” (Tennessee 62). This trip would finally quench Tom’s desire to explore the world. Absence of Mr. Wingfield affects his children and wife greatly. Tom has to work for the family whilst Laura knows only a nagging mother.
Perhaps she would gain self-confidence and self-esteem if she had her father around her. Amanda is ever worried because of her fatherless family. She is too concerned about her family’s financial security that she would not let Tom leave without getting Laura a suitor who would provide for her. To counter her fears, Amanda enrols Laura in a business school hoping that she would be stable; provide for her self and probably for the family. This stems from the fact that she fears without a father; her family would be insecure. If only Mr. Wingfield were around, she would be financially secure. Jim O’Connor is a “nice, ordinary, young man” (Tennessee 5).
These adjectives come out clearly in the context of the play. Due to his ‘ordinary’ nature, he manages to win Laura’s confidence, dances with her, and finally kisses her. His ‘niceness’ drives away Laura’s fears and low self-esteem and she opens up to him. As the play closes, Tom tells Laura, “Blow out your candles, Laura–and so good-bye” (Tennessee 97). Audience may respond to this statement by concurring to it. Laura has to blow out her candles and reach for the lighting that lights the world nowadays. Tom is the protagonist in this story.
Tom is the most crucial to the play’s dramatic action because everything revolves around him. Without him, the Wingfields would not be, Jim would be unknown, and the central theme of illusions would not be realized.
Tennessee, Williams. “The Glass Menagerie.” Oxford; Heinemann Educational Publishers, 1968.