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The Glass Menagerie
Transcript of The Glass Menagerie
by Tennesse Williams
Project by Carly Ducey, Mia Raho, and Reem Alhusseini
humanities period 4 December 2, 2013
Amanda is a washed up southern belle and the single mother of Laura and Tom after their father abandons the family. She is extremely desperate for Laura to find a suitor or job because she fears that Laura will end up being an old maid without a man to care for her. She has a tense relationship with Tom and distanced relationship with Laura.
What is reality?
We define reality as a world or state of things as they actually exist. Reality is subjective to any person or any group. Everyone has different standpoints and views and opinions, so it makes it hard to pinpoint what is real and how things actually exist. What we see as reality is dependent on our point of view. For example, two people might be looking at the same picture, and they might find completely different messages in the painting because in their reality, that is what the piece of work means to them.
Is this play realistic?
The elements of the play that are the most realistic are the emotions and events the characters deal with and experience. The harsh realities that they face are part of what makes this play a realist story.The way Tom is always so unhappy with his life, how his mom always focuses on the past, and how Laura deals with the struggles of her cripples, are all realistic matters. This is an all around very realistic family, especially for the time period. There is a lot of pressure on Tom to earn money for the family because they come from the working middle class. This factor of their lives also creates a realistic tension between mother and son.
How does the author show the differences between illusions and reality?
Williams , Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. New York: New
Directions Books, 1999. Print.
Do you see a duck or a rabbit?
This is similar to the characters in the play. They each had their own reality, because they each had different views on situations. For example, when Jim came to the house, the situation cause Laura anxiety but made Amanda hopeful, this is because their realities are different, so they see things differently.
"Amanda [impatiently]: Why are you trembling?
Laura: Mother, you've made me nervous!
Amanda: How have I made you nervous?
Laura: By all this fuss! You make is seem so important!
Amanda: I don't understand you, Laura. You couldn't be satisfied with just sitting home, and yet whenever U try to arrange something nice for you, you seem to resist it (Williams 51-51)."
There are also parts of the play that aren't realistic. The main factor being that the play is told as one of Tom's memories, as shown through his constant "stepping away" from the story to narrate. This means that him story isn't 100% accurate because memories can become altered throughout time. The fact the the play is a memory not only is a hint toward inaccuracy but it also serves as a romantic element of the story.
Williams presents the differences between illusion (romanticism) and reality (realism) by showing how temporary our illusions last. Although each character finds a way to escape their realities (Tom by constantly going to the movies, and Laura by spending time with her glass menagerie) but no matter how they escape, the escape is only temporary. In the end, they're going to have to face their lives. Tom can't spend all his time at the movies because whether he likes it or not, he has to face his family and his job. Facing reality is inevitable, while living in illusion is only temporary.
"I'm planning to change. I'm right at the point of committing myself to a future that doesn't include the warehouse and MR. Mendoza or even a night-school course in public speaking" Page 64
This quote, said by Tom, contains aspects of Romanticism. Tom often experiences wanderlust, or the need to get out and travel, which parallels with the definition of a Romantic hero. In his exasperated lines, he alludes to his thoughts of leaving behind Amanda and Laura when he talks about his future that doesn't involve the warehouse or anything else he has to deal with. It seems as though Tom is simply interested in a life on his own, however, at the time he makes no active move to accomplish that dream other than pay to the Union of Merchant Seamen instead of paying the electricity bill. When Jim asks if Amanda knows of Tom's ideas to change his life he sushes him, which shows that he values the individual.
This play contains both romantic and realist elements. The lives of the Wingfields create a realist foundation to the story. They live each day facing the harsh realities of life: struggling to make ends meet, the crippling effects of shyness, wanting the best for your family, and so on. A romantic element of the story is the way the characters try to escape these harsh realities. They attempt to escape by creating fantasy worlds for themselves in places or mindsets in which they are comfortable. Laura turns to her glass menagerie in attempts to escape her reality of her antisocial nature. Tom turns to the movies to get away from the stress he faces daily between his family and the work place. Even Amanda seems to create an escape from her current life by reminiscing on her past.
Some may infer that Williams favors romanticism because of the fact that he introduces these "escapes" and Tom does in fact "escape" and leave his family at the end of the story. But, Williams shows the reader how these escapes are only temporary, that these romantic illusions only last for so long and that in the end you are going to have to face reality no matter what. In regards to Tom leaving or "escaping", he still must face the harsh reality of guilt. He feels guilty for leaving his family behind, especially Laura. When ever he sees glass he thinks of her and is reminded of how he left her and let her down.
Conclusion: Romanticism and Realism in
The Glass Menagerie
"You dropped out of school, you gave up an education because of a clump, which as far as I know was practically non-existent! A little physical defect is what you have. Hardly noticeable even! Magnified a thousand times by imagination! You know what my strong advice to you is? Think of yourself as
in some way!" page 81
This quote, said by Jim, displays realism elements. He is talking to Laura, and encouraging her to not be so shy and self-conscious. Although this quote doesn't display realism in the sense of hard working families and the hardships of industrialization, it shows Laura's struggles in everyday life. Another aspect of realism shown in this quote is that social and economic status molded the heroins, which is shown with Jim and Laura. While they seem to be at the same level economically, Jim was much more popular and well-liked in high school, while Laura faced struggles making friends and being social. Six year after graduation, Jim is acting as sort of the "hero" in a sense by telling Laura to not be ashamed, but superior.
Tom is Amanda’s son and Laura’s younger brother. He works at a shoe warehouse to support the family because he is the only source of income after his father left. He escapes the reality of his bleak life through movies and alcohol. He ends up leaving the family, following his fathers, footsteps in order to chase his dream.
Laura is Amanda’s daughter and Tom’s older sister. Laura has a bad leg and has to wear a brace which makes her walks with a limp and this makes her very self conscious. She is extremely shy and to avoid dealing with the outside world she devotes herself to her collection of glass figurines. Laura has had a crush on Jim O'Connor since high school and he is the only boy she has had feelings for.
Jim is an old acquaintance of Tom and Laura who is invited over to dinner as a potential suitor for Laura. Jim was a popular athlete in high school and is now a shipping clerk at the shoe warehouse with Tom. He is able to get Laura to open up to him but ends up being engaged.
The Glass Menagerie is the story of the Wingfields, a middle-working class family made up of a mother named Amanda, a son named Tom, and a daughter named Laura. The father left the family years before the story takes place but his portrait still hangs in their apartment. The story takes place in St. Louis and the time is described as "Now and the Past (Williams xvii)." The story is based in the past, the late 1930s, and is told as a memory from the point of view of Tom. The play is split into two parts: Part I. Preparation for the Gentleman Caller and Part II. The Gentleman calls. These names are given to the sections of the book referring to one of the conflicts of the play. Amanda, the mother, is desperately trying to find a man for Laura who is painfully shy. Laura's shyness dictates her life and she often turns to her glass menagerie (a group of little glass figures) to polish and play with when she want's to escape her reality. Amanda wants both of her children to have the best, but it often comes off as a bit too much, especially with Tom. Tom is the breadwinner in the family and she constantly nags him. Tom is very unhappy with his job (he wants to be a writer) as well as his family life and often goes to the movies to get away from it all.
The first part of the book focuses on the struggles the family faces and, as one could conclude from the section's title, the events leading up to a gentleman coming into the picture for Laura. The man, Jim, is someone Tom works with in the warehouse and one day Tom asks him to come over to the family's apartment for dinner. The situation makes Laura incredibly uncomfortable and her shyness takes over when he comes to visit making her physically ill. Laura recognizes him from high school where he had a nickname for her, Blue Roses. Eventually, she seems to let her guard down as Jim makes conversation with her over her glass menagerie. Jim seems to be attracted to her and they end up kissing. Jim then reveals that he is already engaged and must go.
The play ends in the present where Tom reminisces on his sister. It becomes known that Tom had left the family just as his father had in the past, after being fired from the job he disliked so much. He feels guilty that he has left Laura behind, and finds that no matter where he travels she is always with him whenever he sees glass.