Laura Winfield in The Glass Menagerie goes through a temporary metamorphosis during the course of the play. She is a slightly crippled and very shy young girl who is having a hard time finding her way in the world. She is hopeless and beautiful all at the same time. She is trapped in a world that is spiraling quickly into doom.
Laura lives in the St. Louis of the Depression with her restless brother Tom and her half-mad, overbearing mother Amanda. Her father left the family for a life on the road. “He worked for the telephone-company and fell in love with long distances.” This left Tom as the only breadwinner in the family and her mother in a desperate and touched condition. Tom got a job in a warehouse. He deeply resented this and craved freedom and adventure. He would disappear every night to go to the movies to find his release. This would soon be not enough, though, and both Laura and her mother sensed this. The mother constantly hounded Tom. She would continually point out every flaw he had. They would erupt into fierce arguments that made it difficult to tell if she was deliberating with Tom or his absent father. Her mother was from the south; a place called Blue Mountain. She was a beautiful girl there and had a lot of gentleman callers. She pined bitterly over the loss of this place and time and the poor choice she made in husbands. Even if Laura had no physical defects it would have been hard for her to succeed given these circumstances.
At the beginning of the play Laura is wrapped up in her own little world of glass creatures and phonograph records. She is afraid of people and afraid of the world. She is like one of the inceptions in her glass menagerie. She is a thing of fragile beauty in a hard world. She doubts herself and her abilities. Her mother, though, is determined to see that her daughter does not become a victim of her situation. Her mother tries, almost too hard, to see her daughter through. It is, however, through her mother’s attempts that we see the temporary metamorphosis of Laura.
In scene two we find out that Laura’s mother has discovered that she has dropped out of business school.
Essay on The Glass Menagerie and the Life of Tennessee Williams
The Glass Menagerie and the Life of Tennessee Williams
The Glass Menagerie closely parallels the life of the author. From the very job Tennessee held early in his life to the apartment he and his family lived in. Each of the characters presented, their actions taken and even the setting have been based on the past of Thomas Lanier Williams, better known as Tennessee Williams.
Donald Spoto described the new apartment building that Williams and his family relocated to in St. Louis, Missouri as having only two small windows, one window in the front of the apartment and another in the rear. A fire escape blocked the smoky light that might have come in from the window facing the back alley (16). In The Glass Menagerie, the apartment was described as facing an alley. Meyer brought to my attention that the entrance to the apartment was actually a fire escape. There was no front door in the apartment of The Glass Menagerie, only a fire escape to enter and exit through (1865). This omission of a front door represents the feeling that Tennessee Williams had that he could not leave his family and strike out on his own in a normal fashion as most children do. Tennessee Williams felt that he had to literally escape in order to follow his own dream of writing as Tom too felt in the play. John Fritscher points out in his dissertation that Tennessee and Tom both were torn between their mother’s interpretation of responsibility and their own instinct (5).
Tom Wingfield, the narrator of the play, is representative of Tennessee Williams himself, down to them sharing the same first name. Tennessee Williams did not earn his nickname until his college days at the University of Missouri (Meyer 1864). Both Tom and Tennessee William…
… middle of paper …
…ed his world and his experiences of it in whatever form seemed suitable to the material. (Kahn)
Cook, Sharon. “Permission to Quote Me.” E-mail to author. 2 Apr. 1999
Fritscher Ph.D., John J. Love And Death In Tennessee Williams Diss.1967: Loyola University Library. Internet 1999. Available: jackfritscher.com/tennessee
Kahn, Sy. Modern American Drama: Essays in Criticism. Edited by Willima E. Taylor. Deland, Florida. Everette/Edwards Inc., 1968. 71-88
Spoto, Donald. The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams. Boston: Little, Brown and Co.,1985
Tischler, Nancy M. Tennessee Williams: Rebellious Puritan. New York: The Citadel Press, 1965.
Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Writing, Thinking. 5th ed. Ed. Michael Meyer. Boston: Bedford, 1999. 1865-190