Tennessee Williams is one the major writers of the mid-twentieth century. His work includes the plays, The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire. One theme of The Glass Menagerie is that hopeful aspirations are followed by inevitable disappointments. This theme is common throughout all of Williams’ work and throughout his own life as well. It is shown through the use of symbols and characters.
“I have only one major theme for my work, which is the destructive impact of society on the sensitive non-conformist individual (Williams Netscape).” Symbols help to show the dreams and desires that the characters long for and also the restrictions that keep them from fulfilling those dreams. In The Glass Menagerie, the fire escape symbolizes the way for Amanda Wingfield to bring a man into the house to save her and her daughter. To Tom, the fire escape is a means of escape from the house that traps him- a path to the outside world (Susquehanna. “New Critical”). Rainbows in The Glass Menagerie symbolize hope and are associated with hopeful situations (Susquehanna. “New Critical.) When Tom Wingfield receives a rainbow-colored scarf at the magic show, he is amazed at the fact it turned a bowl of goldfish into flying canaries. Just like the canaries, Tom hopes to fly away- fly away to escape his imprisonment (Susquehanna. “New Critical”). At the end of the play when Tom looks at the “pieces of colored glass, like bits of a shattered rainbow (Williams 137)”, he remembers that he has left his sister behind and prays that he will be able to move on without her. Even though the rainbows appear to be positive signs throughout the book, they eventually all…
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…s something they can relate to. His honesty through his writings brings hope to people looking for it.
Haley, Darryl. “Certain Moral Values: A Rhetoric of Outcasts in the Plays of Tennessee Wililiams.” 1997
Susquehanna University. “New Critical.” Online Posting.
Susquehanna University. “Biographical Criticism.” Online Posting.
“Biography of Tennessee Williams : Playwright, Poet, and Screenwriter.” American Decades CDROM 1.0. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998
Weales, Geralt. “Tennessee Williams.” Scribner Writer Series, Comprehensive Edition. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1997.
Stereotypes and Stereotyping in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles
Stereotypes in Trifles
I like this play quite a lot. It’s got murder, mystery and deceit. It’s interesting that the play bases a lot on stereotypes. The men are the sheriff, deputy and the attorney sent out to discover the details of the murder of a man found hanged in his bed. They look carefully in the bedroom and outside in the barn for clues and the women are sent in, I think initially, to gather some things for Mrs. Wright. The women are mocked at by the men. Worrying about things like jelly freezing and sewing. Mrs. Hale “Oh, her fruit; it did freeze. She worried about that when it turned so cold. She said the fire’d go out and her jars would break”; Hale “Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.” They are not taken seriously. They are women and are not intelligent enough to understand the concept of solving a murder. The men forgot, it’s the little things that bother people the most and for Mrs. Wright, it must have been death of her canary.
I think the canary symbolized Mrs. Wright. Mrs. Hale describes her; “She — come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself – real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and – fluttery. How – she – did – change”; and like a bird, Mrs. Wright even sang in a choir. But after she got married, every thing stopped. She didn’t sing anymore or attend social functions. Like a bird, her house became her cage. The only happiness that she appears to have is with this bird. The bird probably sang when she could not. He was probably a companion to her, she had no children. And like her, he was also caged. Because we do not know, we can only guess that her husband killed her bird. If he killed the bird then he would have killed the only thing that was important to her. He killed her once when he married her and caged her in that house, and he killed her again when he destroyed her bird. “No,. Wright wouldn’t like the bird – a thing that sang. She used to sing. He killed that, too.” When Mrs. Wright was used to its singing and her world became quiet again, it was too much for her take.