Amanda Wingfield: A Woman on the Brink
Amanda Wingfield, described by Preston Fambrough (100) as an "embattled mother," is a woman desperately anxious to ensure that her daughter, Laura, will ensnare a suitable husband and that her son, Tom, will provide the support that Amanda needs for herself and for her family. The entire Wingfield family "lives in a world of illusions or hopes" (Straumann, 203). The thesis to be addressed herein is that in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie there are many different personalities living in the same household, causing enormous stress, and leading invariably to the breakdown experienced by Amanda Wingfield herself.
Amanda Wingfield is a bitter woman whose own marriage failed and whose son "more and more (you) remind me of your father" (Williams, 65). A Southern belle fallen on hard times, Amanda is utterly disenchanted with the life symbolized by "a fire escape landing" that she regards as "a poor excuse for a porch" (Williams, 71). For her handicapped daughter, Laura, Amanda is convinced that a husband and a home of her own is a vital necessity. To that end, she is determined that her son will bring home a suitable "gentleman caller" who will make Laura's life happy and complete.
In describing the play, critic Heinrich Straumann (203) noted that while Amanda and Tom "are capable of adjusting themselves to a hard reality, the girl, when confronted with the possibility of carrying a bit of her dream into reality and realizing that she will fail, breaks down under the experience." It is Straumann's (203) view that it is Laura and not Amanda who ultimately breaks when the long-awaited gentleman caller turns out to be already engaged and therefore unavailable for Laura.
This is not necessarily the case. When Amanda learns that her daughter is doomed to a life of loneliness, Amanda's anger with Tom ultimately serves to drive her son away. As Amanda says, "you don't know th...