From personal experience, I definitely had to try thinking in a different state of mind, because I haven’t grown up in the Midwest, in the 40’s, in a poor unfortunate family. I constantly felt tied to each of the characters and just felt so bad for what they were going through and what issues they had to deal with. It’s always different reading a play for a second time knowing what the ending will be, so I looked for different telling signs that led up to Tom leaving.
Analysis of the text
1) The Glass Menagerie is the story of a broken family who doesn’t know how to properly care for each other resulting in the destruction of multiple relationships.
2) The Glass Menagerie is about each person’s needs and how they must learn how to prioritize their needs over others.
− Amanda Wingfield
− Tom Wingfield
− Laura Wingfield
− Jim O’Connor
− Mr. Wingfield
− Wingfield apartment in St. Louis
− Tom’s Monologues
• Facts, deductions, questions
− Fact: Amanda is Tom and Laura’s mother
− Fact: Laura and Tom went to school with Jim
− Deduction: Laura is crippled and very shy
− Fact: Tom works at a shoe warehouse and wants to be a poet
− Fact: Amanda, a southern belle, used to be a debutant and was married to Mr. Wingfield
− Deduction: Amanda resents her children and wants to be young again
− Fact: Mr. Wingfield left his family
− Fact: Tom is the provider of the family
− Deduction: Tom wants to leave his family
− Question: Why did Mr. Wingfield leave?
− Question: What other experiences has Tom faced, leading him to want to leave his family?
- Question: Is Laura really crippled?
• Central Ideas
− A memory play based on instances and not direct events; the idea that our mind sees only what we want to see or can remember
− How much a traumatic situation can affect one’s being and those they love. How we can only care for others so much until it’s so physically and emotionally taxing that we can take it no longer.
• Genre, style
− Memory play, drama, told in a series of flashbacks
Scene I: The scene in which the characters are established and what their relationships with each other are.
Scene II: The scene in which Amanda decides that the only way for Laura to be successful is by marrying to a wealthy successful man.
Scene III: The scene in which Tom fights and with Amanda and leaves.
Scene IV: The scene in which Tom returns back home and we see how Amanda is desperate to keep Tom from leaving the same way his father did.
Scene V: The scene in which Tom finds a gentleman caller for Laura from his mother’s request.
Scene VI: The scene in which the dinner party occurs and when Laura learns that the gentleman caller is her high school crush, Jim.
Scene VII: The scene in which Jim and Laura reminisce over their high school years and they kiss, Jim realizing what he’s done leaves soon after remembering that he is engaged. Amanda accuses of Tom of knowing of Jim’s engagement being the last straw causing the Tom to leave Laura and Amanda for good.
For me, The Glass Menagerie is about family conflict and how it affects a person’s actions and decisions and their view of their family. I think it was written in order to examine familial priorities through the representation of Tennessee William’s life.
a) Most of Tennessee William’s plays were based on personal experiences and his unhappy childhood. His father was an alcoholic. Williams won many prizes for his writing during his high school years. Williams attended University of Missouri where he was later pulled out by his father and forced to work at a shoe company. His distain for the job led him to write even more. He left the job and eventually went on to Washington University and then University of Iowa where he received a degree in English.
b) Set in the 1940’s in St. Louis. St. Louis was recovering from the Great Depression with large unemployment rates as well as experience vast racism because of WWII. One of the biggest producers of ammunition for WWII was in St. Louis. St. Louis experienced an extreme sense of rationing. Many protests for civil rights took place, some succeeding. Many advancements in architecture were made. The population was on a slow decline. This period of the time was known as ‘Urban Decline and Renewal’.
d) The Glass Menagerie was one of Tennessee Williams’ first big plays that went to Broadway and was loved by many. Many say that it’s easy to see the personal connection that Williams has with his plays.
e) It’s a memory play based on Williams’ life and his own experiences with his family. The play portrays the anger and hurt that Williams felt due to his family’s actions. It shows Williams’ resentment towards his family and how one makes rather significant decisions regarding their family.
f) Tom Wingfield – somewhat of a drunk, his way of coping with his family
Laura Wingfield – an outcast, described as peculiar, also said to be crippled but we don’t know if this fact is true or if it was an idea imbedded into her mind by her mother in order to keep her from leaving
Amanda Wingfield – used to being the young, popular girl, wanting to relive her youth, desperate
g) 1940’s in the Wingfield’s apartment in St. Louis
h) Drama, memory-play
j) Different types of music used during distinct situation, for example “the glass menagerie music”, different visuals projected whether it be phrases or pictures regarding the scene at hand