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The Complex Character of Amanda in The Glass Menagerie

The Complex Character of Amanda in The Glass Menagerie

Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie furnishes an excellent example of a carefully crafted, complex character whose speech and action arise from the “psychological” being created by the playwright.

In his character description, Tennessee Williams starts his reader on the road to discovering Amanda’s complexity.

AMANDA WINGFIELD the mother. A little woman of great but confused vitality clinging frantically to another time and place. Her characterization must be carefully created, not copied from type. She is not paranoiac, but her life is paranoia. There is much to admire in Amanda, and as much to love and pity as there is to laugh at. Certainly she has endurance and a kind of heroism, and though her foolishness makes her unwittingly cruel at times, there is tenderness in her slight person. (Williams 781)

“Before the first lines are spoken Amanda’s complexity is established”(Falk 126) by the nuances and contrasts given here. This basic description must be laid over all dialogue and action throughout the play so as to preserve the fullness of Amanda’s character at times when only portions of her nature are being exhibited.

The complexity of Amanda’s character directly affects her action and dialogue with her children. In her role as mother she exhibits an overwhelming desire to see her children succeed in life. In trying to…

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…ding Plays. Boston: Allyn, 1990. 307-314.

Bigsby, C.W.E. A Critical Introduction to Twentieth-Century American Drama. Vol. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1984.

Falk, Signi. “The Southern Gentlewoman.” Modern Critical Interpretations Tennessee Williams The Glass Menagerie. ed. Harold Bloom. NY: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988.

Jackson, Esther Merle. The Broken World of Tennessee Williams. Madison:

Major Themes in Faulkner’s Light in August

Major Themes in Faulkner’s Light in August

Faulkner’s Light in August is a metaphor.

In fact it is many metaphors, almost infinitely many. It is a jumble of allusions,

themes, portraits, all of them uniquely important, many of them

totally unrelated. In fact no 20th century writer has even

approached the sheer quantity of symbolism Faulkner packed into

every page, with, perhaps, the exception of James Joyce who went so

far as to surpass Faulkner in this regard. So obviously it would be

foolish to attempt to trace every line, follow every branch to its

root, one could spend a lifetime dissecting the book in this

manner. Fortunately, in the midst of this menagerie of wonders,

there are dominate themes. There are veins of meaning that permeate

throughout. Chief among them; Faulkner’s study of 20th century

man’s search for identity, and his compassionate portrait of the

origins of evil.

I have come from Alabama a fur piece (Faulkner, p.3). The

reader begins the book in this manner, following the simple-minded

and determined Lena as she travels, neither coming nor going,

simply moving. Immediately the book draws into her past, relating

events leading up to this point, explaining her motives. One gets a

definite feel for her character, and settles into her narrative,

but as soon as this happens, the book switches gears, turning

instead to a vague character, Joe Christmas. With little

introduction, or warning, the book reels into Joe’s past, catching

the reader totally unaware and throwing off the entire continuity

of the book. Faulkner’s desire for unity and coherence in the

pattern is not as strong as is his desire for truth to individual

response (Reed, p.123). Thus Lena is a frame, she serves only to

accentuate Christmas’s story, by contrast. Faulkner demands the

reader follow, and realize this.

So we now see Christmas’s childhood. From the beginning,

Christmas is two things. One, he is a totally clean slate in that

he has no idea whatsoever of his past, his origins. He is neither

predestined to good nor evil, simply born. By this same token,

Christmas is left confused. Because he has no idea of his origins,

he has no idea of self, even to the extent of not being sure of his

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