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The play is full of imagery and symbolism. Williams uses the characters in the play as symbols themselves.
Amanda Wingfield is a southern woman who got abandoned by her husband and is mother to Tom and Laura. In the most parts of the play, she spends her time reminiscing on her past. She also cuts across to the reader as a control freak who nags Tom and Laura by trying to control their every move in the family’s house. She is entirely dependent on Tom for their house rent but still dictates when it is appropriate to play music in the house, dismiss people from the dining table, and even offers her children advice on how they should chew food properly! The yellow dress and bathrobe get used by Williams to symbolize Amanda’s longing for her long gone past. She struggles to put aside her love for his husband who abandoned her.
Tom acts as the play’s protagonist and narrator. As a character, he appears to be full of contradiction. Tom’s participation in the play depicts juvenile emotion. Tom is ambitious throughout the play as he works hard to provide for his family. He constantly expresses his love for writing poetry, reading literature, and even has dreams of abandoning his family just to get an escape and have adventure with life’s allure. He however appears bound to their house hold and the petty, squalid living it has to offer. He appears to care for both his mother and sister but becomes cruel to them at times. Even though his father abandoned the family, he draws influence from his absentee father’s family portrait in the household. He follows in his footsteps by abandoning Laura and Amanda at the play’s end leaving them shattered and devastated.
Laura is the emotionally and physically crippled sister in the family. She cuts across as the only character in the play who is compassionate to everyone else by not hurting them. Her character is symbolic as she has the fewest lines in the lay
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The end of the twentieth century found immigrants coming to the United States in great numbers comparable only with the large influx of immigrants in the beginning of the same century. John Isbister observes that the majority of the earlier immigrants were white Europeans, while most contemporary immigrants are Latin American, Asian or other non-white.
Williams narrates the story through employing multiple layers of meaning to the words, settings, characters and situations. For example, the glass menagerie, the urge of the protagonist to forget her sister, and the blowing out of the candles at the end of the play all employ a deeper layer of meaning. Williams employed the use of symbolism to introduce themes, characters, morals and values, and then to link them all together.
Tom also took on the responsibilities of tending to the well-being of his ill and painfully shy younger sister. However, Tom’s ignorance and selfishness gets the better of him, a behavior that had been building up until it reached a boiling point at the end of the play, resulting in Laura’s emotional distress.
Considering such, it is interesting to study the characterizations exposed in the play entitled “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams because the three main characters reflect common personalities. They are like a collection of glasses that are fragile but still have to be strong enough in order to survive the cruelties of life.
Summary of the Play: Set in St. Louis in the mid-1930s, 'Glass Menagerie' is described as a 'memory' play, that is, the writer has created the work from memories of his life; it truly replicates Williams' own experiences. There is no doubt as to its autobiographical nature, as the three main characters, Tom, Amanda and Laura Wingfield represent himself, his mother Edwina, and his sister Rose, and some of the events in their lives, using Tom Wingfield as narrator.
Jim O'Connor, the gentleman caller, bears the same name as the young man who called on Rose Williams, before her descent into insanity. The action takes place in a small apartment in a poor district of the city, crowded outside and in, surrounded by many dark alleys and fire escapes.
ical machinations of the other characters indeed make the drama a “menagerie” of cruelty and dysfunction, Laura displays an almost unreal, pure compassion towards the other characters. It is a testament to Williams’s skill as a playwright that she does not appear
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What Tom does when he cannot take the criticism anymore is classical escape (Williams, 1944). He leaves to smoke instead. This is designed to help Tom escape from outside phenomena that are irritating him.
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