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Gender Roles in “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams Essay

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Updated: Feb 22nd, 2022

In the play The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams has written the story of the Wingfield family that lived in St Louis during the 1940s. The family comprises of Tom Wingfield, Amanda and Laura who demonstrate gender roles that trigger suspicion of passiveness, manipulation and dependence. Williams has displayed Tom as being a submissive person who is not happy in life. The author has portrayed Amanda as a calculative and outspoken southern woman who just cannot get over her attitude as developed over the last several years. Laura has been depicted as a woman who has very weak emotions and is immensely dependent on others. The Wingfields are a middle class family and the three central characters exist and live a life that is interspersed with reality and an illusionary world in order that they get away from the problems faced by them on a daily basis.

In being a memory play, The Glass Menagerie focuses particularly on the memories that Tom carries about his family after he gets very far from them. The author has successfully created the dimensions of memory by aptly using specific and relevant symbols, characters and settings. It is true that Williams has made the most appropriate choices in constructing the play. With the portrayal of the different events in the play, it is convincingly portrayed that the only means to escape from life’s problems is to solve them instead of avoiding them. The author has taken an inside look into the circumstances of a normal family existing in the pre war depression years. The lives of the individual family members are made very meaningful and dramatic with the use of symbols by Williams. The two specific symbols in the play are escape and The Glass Menagerie. Escape becomes a means to provide diversion and hope from the external world while the Glass Menagerie directly refers to the uniqueness and delicate nature of Laura.

The play clearly depicts that all members of the Wingfield family choose to hide from the realities of life. Amanda makes attempts to live her past again by using Laura and is not willing to accept anything that is against her temperament. Laura is too scared of the realities of life and prefers to take protection under the guise of her limping leg and the glass menagerie. Tom is seen as escaping from reality by getting drunk, writing poems and watching films. Mr. Wingfield escapes from realities by getting away from the family and not being in touch with them. Hence, all members of the Wingfield family can be seen as having their own escape mechanisms that are used in escaping and hiding from the real world.

Gender roles play a major role in the play in stating the upcoming strategies of all characters. Laura has to get married because she is a woman and Tom has to attend business training because he is a man and has to provide a means of living for the family. Gender roles in the Glass Menagerie appear to take place due to convention, which is evident from the discussion that Amanda has in regard to what women and men should be doing. Gender roles are also seen as influencing values in how men and women are viewed in different ways. Amanda is very particular about Laura remaining fresh and pretty, while for men she believed that character is the most important thing.

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"Gender Roles in "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams." IvyPanda, 22 Feb. 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/the-glass-menagerie-by-tennessee-williams-essay-3/.

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IvyPanda. "Gender Roles in "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams." February 22, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-glass-menagerie-by-tennessee-williams-essay-3/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Gender Roles in "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams." February 22, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-glass-menagerie-by-tennessee-williams-essay-3/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Gender Roles in "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams'. 22 February.

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