The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
There is ample substantiation of the significance of The Glass Menagerie as found in the fact that Tennessee Williams has named the play after it. Glass is considered as a medium of ornamental articles in being beautiful and fragile. Menagerie is understood as being a compilation of things thus connoting variety. In essence, The Glass Menagerie represents fantasy and a means to break away for Laura and as an objective of ultimate ridicule for her brother Tom.
In being the narrator in the essay, Tom has to undergo a string of personal disappointments and personality changes during the entire play. Unable to cope with the menial jobs and unsatisfactory life at home he escapes within the realm of writing poetry and movies. Fed up he leaves the Wingfield house but continues to be trapped in memories of Laura, due to which he is unable to perform in the present and roams around aimlessly while missing his sister. The reader is compelled to sympathize with Tom due to how he is compelled to shift back and forth, while the conclusion of the story does not solve the doubts that the reader experiences about him.
Given the fact that Tennessee Williams wrote The Glass Menagerie in 1944, the book has reflected on some of the values, roles, and social norms during the time. This paper makes attempts to understand the social norms and values as prevalent during the time that this play was written, with specific reference to the roles of the different characters in portraying the inherent circumstances and hardships that are faced by them. It is the circumstances faced by the characters that one is compelled to resolve but ultimately ambivalence prevails, thus indicating that in a social structure several matters remain unresolved which have to be coped with.
The Glass Menagerie can be seen as a strong plea to understand the role of each character. The author has expressed his main ideas by way of deception and symbolism. The world created by Williams is indicative of entrapment being a normal part of life with escape being pointless given the love that one comes to share with the characters. Gender has a lot of influence on the behaviors and personalities of the characters. Several women as depicted in the book appear to be helpless; one of them is disabled, retiring, and shy, while another is emotionally disturbed in refusing to deal with her state of affairs.
Tom is portrayed as a person who is required to raise his family despite being unable and incompetent to do so. Jim plays the role of a thorough gentleman and a good husband for Laura in being capable enough to care for her. Almost all the characters in the book live in a world of fantasy where they do not see and accept the realities faced by them. All characters use varying modes of escapism but the result is the same for them. They are disconnected from the outside world and are constantly disappointed and frustrated in being unable to live life on their terms. Ultimately the psychological limitations and the situations that characters face are not resolved. There does not appear to be intellectual or emotional growth for the characters nor do their circumstances improve.
Williams has explored the different ways in which the stage can be used in depicting the memories and internal life of the characters. As narrator, Tom is seen as moving in and out of the actions in the play. Williams has abundantly used lighting effects, screen projections, and music to create a dream-like and haunting experience that is in keeping with the nature of a play that delves into memories. Women in the book have been modeled in resemblance to those of the Victorian ages.
They are unable to survive in a competitive and commercial environment and all their dreams are focused around the men that never appear to be there. In being raised not to become housewives but as meticulous and dignified ladies, they have to bear the frustrations. In essence, the main focal point of The Glass Menagerie is about women being extremely dependent on men. The task to search for partners for Laura and Amanda is entrusted to Tom, and the search for a partner becomes the search for reality, because till the time a mate is found, they will continue to survive in delusion.