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Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie is a play

Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie is a play about an incomplete family in which each character is expected in some way to take the place of the missing member in order to make the family function. The play is about Amanda Wingfield, whose husband abandoned her long ago, and her two adult children, Tom and Laura. The play centers on Tom's guilt as he looks back at the last time he was together with his family. Following the visit of a "gentleman caller," who was the family's last possible hope of replacing the father, Tom abandoned his mother and sister--although he had no idea how they could care for themselves. Tom feels guilt and sorrow but he never says that he had any other choice. There was no way that he--any more than Laura or the visitor--could take the missing father's place and the audience is left to conclude that Amanda probably had to do it herself.

The Tom of the present is the play's narrator and the Tom of the past is a character in the memory play. As Tom introduces himself and the play he says that there is "a fifth character in the play who doesn't appear except in this larger-than-life-size photograph over the mantel" (23). The smiling young face of the father overlooks the scene and contrasts with the brutal man who simply abandoned his wife and children and sent them one post-card that said only "Hello-Goodbye!" (23). By abandoning the family he left them without economic support. One of the main functions of the family is to provide for the children and allow them to begin their own lives at the proper time and have, in turn, families of their own. But Mr. Wingfield's abandonment made the normal functioning of the family almost impossible.

The most immediate and pressing need for the family is to replace the father in his economic role. His absence has, of course, left many holes in the fabric of family life, but the economic problem is so serious that it shoves everything else to one si...

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Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie is a play. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 18:42, October 01, 2020, from