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Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie

The Wingfield family in Tennessee WilliamsÆ The Glass Menagerie is one that is held together by the bonds of illusion, dysfunction, and entrapment. Amanda Wingfield lives in a lower middle-class apartment that Williams tells us is ôsymptomatic of the impulse of this largest and fundamentally enslaved section of American society to avoid fluidity and differentiation and to exist and function as one interfused mass of automatismö (Williams, 1945, 400). Amanda and her two children, Laura and Tom, are enslaved in different ways. Amanda is a slave to a past when the bloom was not off the rose, so-to-speak. Tom is enslaved by pity for his mother and sister that keeps him working in a warehouse job he hates as he is a poet. Laura is enslaved by her illusions. There is a constant struggle between reality and illusion in this ômemoryö play, something ironic in light of the fact that Williams attempted to avoid realism. As Downer (1960) notes: ôAs a writer he is basically a poet, and he has done much to develop the possibilities of poetic expression in a theater that was created as a home for relentless realismö (222). LauraÆs development through the play influences the evolution of the thesis of the play, that one must escape enslavement to have the chance for a fulfilling existence.

LauraÆs development over the course of the play is one that moves from illusion towards reality and then swings back into illusion at the end of the play. At the beginning of the play we see that Laura is a painfully shy girl. She is physically disabled and is left crippled from a childhood illness. She and her family have been abandoned by their father. Laura is also overwhelmed by the unrealistic expectations her mother has for her, ones she will never fulfill. LauraÆs painful experiences have caused her to become introverted, living in a world of illusions that is symbolized by her collection of glass animals û the glass menagerie o...

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Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:45, August 03, 2020, from