The Matriarch Behind William’s The Glass Menagerie

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When a adult female experiences indulgence at its really best in the past and suffers a reversal of luck at nowadays. she will frequently be caught in a dizzy semblance about what her yesteryear is like as she struggles to accept the strivings and ploddings of the present. This problem with credence of her destiny is more exaggerated when she becomes mother. who will frequently look to be excessively overbearing for her kids as she will frequently force them to recognize her semblances. When. in fact. her purpose is to give merely the best for her kids.

This is what Amanda Wingfield’s character appears to be in Tennessee William’s much-acclaimed drama The Glass Menagerie. As the materfamilias in the Wingfield household. she raised Tom and Laura entirely in the begrimed St. Louis flat during the Depression epoch. Apparently. she has trouble confronting world. though by the terminal of the drama she does admit Tom’s desire to go forth and Laura’s unsure hereafter. She often fantasizes about the yesteryear. likely overstating her ain popularity when she was still a immature lady in the Blue Mountains.

Her relationship with her boy Tom is conflicted. most conspicuously when she criticizes about his wonts and picks in life. Character Background As a immature lady who grew in the Blue Mountains. Mississippi in the Southern portion of the United States during the late 1800s. Amanda was likely raised in an flush household that belonged to the outstanding plantation proprietors. In fact. in The Glass Menagerie. Amanda Wingfield recalled her apparently privileged maidenhood in the Mississippi Delta with obvious embroidery: “I had malaria fever all that Spring… .

I had a small temperature all the time-not adequate to be serious–just plenty to do me ungratified and dizzy! Invitations poured in–parties all over the Delta! … I took quinine but kept on traveling. traveling! Evenings. dances! Afternoons. long. long drive! Picnics–lovely! So lovely that state in May–all lacy with cornel. literally flooded with jonquils” ( Williams. 53-54 ) . Another show of Amanda’s opulent background is when she prided approximately 17 gentlemen companies in one afternoon as she exults in her Southern yesteryear. Amanda Wingfield even listed her beaus—“gentlemen all! …

some of the most outstanding immature plantation owners of the Mississippi Delta”–she besides cited their fiscal lineages. Champ Laughlin went on to go a frailty president of the Delta Planters Bank. Hadley Stevenson. who drowned in Moon Lake. left his widow “one hundred and 50 1000 in Government bonds. ” Bates Cutrere. who was killed in a shoot-out on the floor of the Moon Lake Casino. died with Amanda’s image in his pocket. go forthing “eight or 10 thousand estates. that’s all” to a widow he ne’er loved. Finally. there was Duncan J.

Fitzhugh. the adult male with the “Midas touch. ” who became “the Wolf of Wall Street” ( p. 9-10 ) . It is during these reveries of Amanda that The Glass Menagerie as a drama rise above from the remainder. It is in Amanda Wingfield’s memory. “seated preponderantly in the bosom. ” of her life before she came to an urban industrialised North. which Williams refers to as “the basically enslaved subdivision of American society” ( p. 3 ) . The tragic dimension of the drama is centered in Amanda. for neither of her kids is capable of seeing. as the female parent sees. their starving nowadays in the visible radiation of a larger yesteryear ( Howell. 1970 ) .

In fact. we can see Amanda as an ordinary adult female who is someway transfigured by the memory of her early life in Mississippi and who tries to go through the influence on to her kids. She exaggerates her glorifications. like the figure of gentlemen companies. but the thought of a really different manner of life is existent. and this is adequate to set up her as the dominant involvement in the drama. When she negotiations of Blue Mountain. her kids sponsor her and laugh behind her dorsum. “I know what’s coming. ” Tom says. “Yes. But allow her state it. ” Laura says. “She loves to state it” ( p. 7 ) .

And so Amanda does non mind her boy and girl to live over the high life she recalls as a Southern belle. Tom wants to cognize how she managed to entertain all those gentlemen companies. She knew the art of conversation. Amanda retorted. A miss in those yearss needed more than a pretty face and figure. “although I wasn’t slighted in either respect” ; she had to cognize how to speak and to discourse important things. “Never anything harsh or common or vulgar. ” This is why Amanda slightly regrets her pick of get marrieding a telephone adult male because she might hold become a married woman of a millionaire.

At the current scene of the drama. Amanda is now a attenuation southern belle abandoned by her hubby. a telephone adult male “who fell in love with long distances” ( p. 5 ) . Amanda clings to the past and memories of her genteel maidenhood in Blue Mountain. Yet. she besides exhibits a ferocious finding to get the better of her inexorable fortunes. and frequently badgers her kids about household duties and be aftering for the hereafter. Amanda’s flight from the drab nowadays is different from Tom’s and Laura’s.

Amanda thought that together they can seek to get away world. but she in her ain manner is coming to clasps with it. by seeking to do a breadwinner out of Tom and by procuring Laura’s hereafter with a calling or matrimony. “Both of my children—they’re unusual kids! Don’t you think I know it? I’m so—proud! ” ( p. 31 ) The gentlemen companies are non designed to reflect her popularity so much as to propose to her kids the larger possibilities that life has to offer which they from limited experience are unable to see. Howell ( 1970 ) assumed that merely Amanda. as the narrative progresses. does a definite significance of the drama emerge.

The gentlemen companies begin as a gag ; Amanda herself is a gag. in the eyes of her kids and of the coevals which they represent ; but Williams’ construct of a really different manner of life in his native South enables him to stand for the cockamamie female parent and her dreams into something which is baronial and true. In its larger significance. Amanda’s calamity becomes a fable of the insufficiency of modem life. Amanda’s Relationship With Laura Laura Wingfield is the girl of Amanda and younger sister of Tom. In The Glass Menagerie. she is characterized as an highly diffident. even emotionally disturbed. immature adult female.

Presented to hold a little physical damage. Laura has a brace on her leg which makes her experience conspicuous. Her aggregation of glass animate beings gives the drama its rubric. She does non work. and she has been unable to finish a typewriting category because of her jitteriness. Although she says she had one time liked a male child in high school. she has ne’er had and is improbable to hold any sort of romantic relationship. In the drama. Laura’s future becomes the cardinal duty of Wingfield household ; person will hold to take attention of her.

Amanda expresses articulately the humiliation of the abandoned married woman and the single adult female in the Southern civilization. and she fears that Laura will go a “front porch girl” — 1 who sits on the porch in the eventides watching others marry and raise their kids. Tennessee Williams often mentioned this lost lady throughout the drama. who is non suited for the matrimony game. can non gain a life in the modern universe. and has no function in modern fragmented household units. In an earlier clip. she would hold been the old maid aunt. shuttled from one household member to another. going a corporate duty.

By the thirtiess. households seldom lived in great. joging houses with adequate infinite to suit long-run visitants. The shriveled household. isolated from its relations in its flat or cottage. crowded into large metropoliss. had no infinite for the unwanted dependants. Without that community of concern. Laura becomes Amanda’s job — and Tom’s ( Tischler. 2000. p. 31 ) . In this respect. readers would separate that Amanda’s relationship with Laura boundary lines on motherly concern that frequently becomes excessively overbearing that it becomes barbarous. In fact. Amanda shortly reveals herself subsequently in the drama as a symbol of the “devouring female parent.

” Though seemingly fostering. she thwarts and hobbles her kids. ruling non merely their eating wonts. but their full lives. maintaining them safely in the nest with her. Portraying herself as a sufferer to their demands. she really requires their entry to feed her ain pride. stultifying Laura more by her hideous outlooks. Within the drama. it is Laura’s glass aggregation that allows us to see the childly arrested development on a private universe of pretend animate beings and daintiness of this stray miss. Taking it as a symbol of Laura herself. fragile and beautiful. the writer plays with the more specific figure of the unicorn.

Here we see the complete development of a complex thought. hinted at in the duologue. We know from mediaeval literature that this fabulous figure of unicorns is identified with virgins and hence with gender. Amanda invariably pesters Tom to take a suited “gentleman caller” from among his coworkers. and. he finally agrees to convey his friend Jim O’Connor to dinner. Delighted. Amanda immerses herself in programs for his visit. the chance of a suer for her girl stirring memories of her ain boyfriend in Blue Mountain.

Laura. nevertheless. is panicky and becomes physically sick when Jim arrives. In this instance. Jim appeared as a spirited immature adult male who believes in the power of self-improvement classs and the hereafter of telecasting. By the way. he is besides the popular male child for whom Laura in secret had a crush on during high school. Left entirely with Laura after dinner. he bit by bit sets her at easiness with his personable mode and finally persuades her to dance. Their motion is awkward. nevertheless. and they bump against the tabular array that supports Laura’s glass unicorn. interrupting its horn.

Therefore. when Jim by chance breaks off its horn. he has non transformed it into a Equus caballus: it remains a unicorn. but is now a damaged unicorn that manages to look like an ordinary Equus caballus. In some ways. this is what Amanda has done to Laura. distorted her true infantile nature to do her seem like all the normal immature ladies being courted by nice immature gentlemen. Laura’s pained responses to her mother’s cruel inquiries about her programs for the eventide expose the torment that her indefensible concerns that affected Laura since the beginning of the drama. Amanda’s Relationship With Tom

As the storyteller of the drama. Tom has been touted as supporter of the drama. He is a brother to Laura and a boy to Amanda. Because of the wretchedness and the intrigues of his overbearing female parent. Tom excessively dreams of abandoning the household. as his male parent had done. He feels trapped between his occupation. where he frequently neglects his responsibilities in order to compose poesy. and in his place. where he is reprimanded for reading some modern literature which was considered disgraceful during those times. Although he claims to travel out and watch films every dark. he besides likely goes to a tap house. since he sometimes comes place rummy.

Finally. Tom eventually gave in to the worrying of Amanda and agrees to convey a “gentleman caller” place to run into Laura. but he leaves the household that dark. Although Tom appears to truly care for Laura. his greater desire is to alleviate his defeat at his restricting state of affairs. When he functions as storyteller at a clip several old ages after the action of the drama. readers understand that he has escaped physically but non emotionally. As we have said earlier. Tom’s relationship with his female parent Amanda caused most of the struggles in The Glass Menagerie. At the start. Tom. both narrates and participates in the action onstage.

He advises the audience in his gap monologue that “the drama is memory” and features characters who are facets of his ain consciousness. tinged by mawkishness. His retrospective commentary continues throughout the drama and provides an dry counterpoint to the unfolding events. In fact. Tom is a poet trapped in a boring occupation at a shoe warehouse. Tom dreams of going a author and escapes every night to the films. where he vicariously experiences the escapade he craves. So when Amanda confronts Tom’s invariable traveling out to imbibing in tap houses. with an alibi of traveling to the films.

Tom expressed his utter hatred to his female parent naming her “ugly-babbling old-witch” ( p. 24 ) . As his female parent Amanda invariably badgers him to take in the function as the caput of the household and assist his sister find a adult male who will take attention of her hereafter. we can see Tom’s dreams easy being peeled off. Beaurline ( 1965 ) averred that there are a 100 ways that the organic structure of the drama depicts Tom’s consciousness of the indispensable hopelessness of the Wingfield household and the indispensable unresponsiveness of their beautiful memories. One of the greatest minutes in modern theatre occurs when Amanda comes on phase to recognize Laura’s gentleman company.

Cipher says a word for a few seconds ; everyone’s eyes are fixed on Amanda’s dress—the old ball frock that she wore when she led the cotilion old ages ago. Before age had yellowed this frock she had twice won the cakewalk. and she had worn it to the Governor’s ball in Jackson. The frock. at this minute. suggests the arrant futility of Amanda’s attempts to happen a hubby for her girl. She defeats her ain intents ; she can non defy feigning that the gentleman company has come to name on her. merely as 17 of them came one afternoon on Blue Mountain. Tom is shocked and embarrassed.

The grotesque sight foliages Jim speechless. and he is a immature adult male proud of his high school preparation in public speech production. Meanwhile. Laura lies in her sleeping room. ill with fright. Another case of struggle between Amanda and Tom happened when she tried to set the lamp for Tom while he is composing. She chides him: “I know that Milton was unsighted. but that’s non what made him a genius” . Stein ( 1964 ) thought that this is Amanda’s acknowledgment of Tom’s difference from other work forces and as such establishes one character’s attitude toward another. It besides underscores our sense of Amanda’s unthreatening tampering in Tom’s privateness.

Furthermore. it works ironically. for it should propose to the audience Milton’s sonnet on his sightlessness and add to our sense of the struggle between Tom’s desire to get away from place and the ploddings at work. as it collides with Amanda’s belief that they besides serve to those who stand and wait. Stein ( 1964 ) related that there exists the even broader contrast. inherent in the Milton image. of sight and sightlessness. of light and darkness. This form of imagination is every bit of import to The Glass Menagerie. where the struggle between semblance and world is shaped in footings of what the characters dreams of and what they really are.

In the terminal. the readers will eventually reason that Tom’s animus towards Amanda stems from the fact offered by these decisions: a adult male of imaginativeness seldom finds fulfillment in a shoe mill ; a male child seldom becomes a adult male under the alert oculus of a domineering female parent ; the interruption with the yesteryear is ever painful for the sensitive adult male ; and there is wellness in this thrust to continue one’s unity and develop to one’s adulthood regardless of the demands of the household ( Crandell. 1996. p. 12 ) . Conclusion What’s admirable in this whole drama of Tennessee Williams is that all the characters are tangible.

We can about see a gloss of all our female parents in Amanda Wingfield as she merely wanted the best for her kids and she merely wants to procure their hereafter. Unfortunately. she transformed into an overbearing and chatty female parent to both Tom and Laura that caused them to hold inner strivings because of their mother’s propulsions. As Thompson ( 2002 ) observed that this drama is “a profuseness of symbolic mentions and a perennial form of expectancy. fleeting fulfilment. and ultimate despair” . this makes the secret plan of drama larger than life.

Not that The Glass Menagerie is a “simple narrative of one shy crippled miss. a neurotic female parent. and a dreamer of a son” or merely the “story of merely one more broken family” . but it is surely like the glass aggregation of Laura where we could see through “modern man’s disaffection from God and isolation from his fellow adult male. ” Thus. Amanda’s semblance serves up to its intent as her defence against her present stature and virtually wanted her loved 1s out of this quandary.

Plants Cited

Beaurline. Lester A. The Glass Menagerie: From Story to Play. Modern Drama. 8. 2 ( September 1965 ) : 142-149. Crandell. George W. ( Ed. ) . The Critical Response to Tennessee Williams. Westport. Connecticut: Greenwood Press. 1996. Howell. Elmo. The Function of Gentlemen Callers: A Note on Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. Notes on Mississippi Writers 2. 3 ( Winter 1970 ) : 83-90. Stein. Roger B. The Glass Menagerie’ Revisited: Calamity without Violence. Western Humanities Review. 18. 2 ( Spring. 1964 ) : 141-53. Thompson. Judith J. Tennessee Williams’s Plays: Memory. Myth. and Symbol. NY: Peter Lang. 2002. Tischler. Nancy M. Student Companion to Tennessee Williams. Westport. Connecticut: Greenwood Press. 2000. Williams. Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. NY: New Directions Publishing Corp. . 1999.

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