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Fragile as Glass in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

In Tennessee Williams‘ play The Glass Menagerie, the audience believes that the

menagerie simply refers to a glass collection owned by Laura Wingfield. Laura lives with her

brother Tom and her mother Amanda. Due to her mother‘s desire for her to marry, Jim‘s

introduction to the play is one as a gentleman caller. When Laura describes her glass animals to

Jim, she uses her mother‘s term ―glass menagerie‖ (Williams 414) for them. All of the figures

are glass, but the animals in it vary, and thus fit, one definition of the word. However, there is

another definition to consider: ―an unusual and varied group of people‖ (―Menagerie‖). This

interpretation of the word seems to fit the entire play. Glass takes on many forms: clear, stained,

tinted, broken, vitreous, plain, painted, fractured, faceted, and toughened are just a few. The title

of the play now represents the way that the varied group of people in it portrays the definition.

Tom introduces the audience to the Wingfield family by means of his memories. Since

the play is a memory, Tom‘s interpretation of his family stems from his point of view. He does

not try to make himself out to be any better than the other members are. If anything, his character

seems to have just as many, if not more, flaws as his sister‘s and mother‘s characters do. The

inner conflict he suffers from makes him seem like a piece of stained glass, all separated, and

unable to become one piece. His conflict stems from what he is, what he wants to be, and what

he knows is right. Amanda drives home the latter by asking, ―How do you think we‘d manage if

you were‖ (Williams 395) implying that all of their well-beings depend on him. He holds down a

job at a warehouse, but poetry …

… middle of paper …

…r than

let the differences tear them apart.

Works Cited

Holditch, W. Kenneth. ―The Glass Menagerie.‖ Identities and Issues in Literature (1997):

Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 16 Nov. 2010.

―Menagerie.‖ Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 11 Nov. 2010.

Panesar, Gurdip. “Literary Contexts in Plays: Tennessee Williams‘ The Glass Menagerie‖

Literary Contexts in Plays: Tennessee Williams‟ „The Glass Menagerie‟ (2007):1.

Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 16 Nov. 2010.

Tischler, Nancy M. ―The Glass Menagerie: The Revolution of Quiet Truth.‖ Bloom‟s Modern

Critical Interpretations: The Glass Menagerie (1988): 31-41. Literary Reference Center.

EBSCO. Web. 16 Nov. 2010.

Williams, Tennessee. ―The Glass Menagerie.‖ Literature: Craft and Voice. Eds. Nicholas

Delbanco and Alan Cheuse. Vol. 3.New York: McGraw-Hill. 2010. 387-420. Print.

The Tragedy of Lady Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

The Tragedy of Lady Ophelia of Hamlet

Melancholy, grief, and madness pervade Shakespeare’s great tragedy, Hamlet. The emotional maladies presented within Hamlet, not only allow the audience to sympathize with prince Hamlet, but also with the tragic lady Ophelia as well. It is Ophelia who suffers at her lover’s discretion because of decisions she was obligated to make on behalf of her weak societal position.

Hamlet provides his own self-torture and does fall victim to melancholia and grief – his madness is feigned. They each share a common connection: the loss of a parental figure. Hamlet loses his father as a result of a horrible murder, as does Ophelia. Her situation is more severe because it is her lover who murders her father and all of her hopes for her future as well. Ultimately, it is also more detrimental to her character and causes her melancholy and grief to quickly turn to irretrievable madness.

Critics argue that Hamlet has the first reason to be hurt by Ophelia because she follows her father’s admonitions regarding Hamlet’s true intentions for their beginning love. In Act 3, scene 1, line 91 Hamlet begins with his malicious sarcasm toward her. “I humbly thank you, well, well, well,” he says to her regarding her initial pleasantries (Johnson 1208). Before this scene, he has heard the King and Polonius establishing a plan to deduce his unusual and grief-stricken behavior.

Hamlet is well aware that this plan merely uses Ophelia as a tool, and as such, she does not have much option of refusing without angering not only her busybody father but the conniving King as well. Hamlet readily refuses that he cared for her. He tells her and all of his uninvited listeners, “No, not I, I never gave you aught” (lines 94-95). Some critics stress, as does J. Dover Wilson, that Hamlet has a right to direct his anger to Ophelia because even though many critics “in their sympathy with Ophelia they have forgotten that it is not Hamlet who has ‘repelled’ her, but she him” (Wilson 159). It is possible that Wilson does not see the potential harm to Ophelia should she disobey her authority figures (i.e. her father and her king). Furthermore, Ophelia cannot know “that Hamlet’s attitude toward her reflects his disillusionment in his mother . . . to her, Hamlet’s inconstancy can only mean deceitfulness or madness” (Lidz 158).

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