The Glass Menagerie play was written by Tennessee Williams. Born in 1911 in Mississippi, Williams lived in Tennessee as well as Mississippi until their family moved to St. Louis. The play seems to draw parallel with Williams’ own family, whose lifestyle was almost like that of the Wingfield family.
During his time as a writer, Williams received various awards especially in this play, The Glass Menagerie. Among his awards was the prestigious New York Drama Critics Circle, which he won four times (The Book of the Dead Man 109-110).
His play, The Glass Menagerie gained popularity throughout United States. The play portrays Williams’ use of thematic devices and production values. It is based on a melancholic family that struggles with several issues in life ranging from single parenthood to family conflicts and financial support. This paper will analyze Tennessee Williams’ play with much focus on how Laura’s relationship with Jim changed the tone of play (Williams 155).
The Glass Menagerie
The whole drama takes place in St. Louis, at narrator’s family home (Tom). Tom lives in a small apartment with his mother and sister. The latter is crippled on one of her legs and is disillusioned by her glasses. Tom’s father, Mr. Wingfield is said to have deserted the family for a long period and the play does not go on explain why he left, although he sends greetings postcard to his family, he disappears from the scene. Tom’s mother Amanda or Mrs.
Wingfield is depicted as persistently reprimanding Tom over almost all issues of his life, ranging from his personality to eating habits, among others. The Family struggles both financially and emotionally given the disappearance of Tom’s father. Amanda is more sociable compared to her daughter Laura who is very shy and delicate.
Tom works to support his family but is divided on whether to pursue life far away from his family, so he plots to desert them and eventually does. Jim is Tom’s friend and was in the same school as Laura, he is engaged and when he tells this to Laura on their first meeting after school, she is heartbroken because she loved him. The story ends in disharmony when Tom finally decides to abandon his family obligations and never to return (Bradford 1-2).
In Tennessee Williams’ play, The Glass Menagerie, four characters are well brought out, that is Tom, his mother Amanda, Sister Laura and friend Jim. The characters meet together on the day Tom invites Jim to their house, and Laura’s mother thinks she has got a suitor for is her daughter.
Tom Wingfield is the only son of the Wingfield family; He lives with his mother Amanda and sister Laura. His father deserted them and so he carries on, his responsibility by providing for the family, he later leaves the family never to return.
He is frustrated with life and wants to leave for a strange adventure. This comes out clearly when he talks to Jim about his future at their house and even leaves the family. Tom also performs as the narrator in the play.
Laura is Tom’s sister and has been out of high school for six years. She is shy and only focuses on her glass figurines. She is crippled and loves Jim so much but gets disappointed when Jim tells her he is engaged. She is described as losing touch with reality and as fragile as her glass collections. She is tender, especially in the way she deals with Jim. Laura is lonely and this is conveyed when her mother tries to find a suitor for her. She is also cheerful as she receives Jim, her dream man, into the house and even faints for Joy.
Amanda is both Tom and Laura’s mother. She is depicted as loving; this is conveyed in her love for them. She keeps track of her children’s emotional and physical status, for instance, she reprimands Tom for bad eating habits as well as the job he does.
She tries to help Laura gain confidence and even tries to find a suitor for her in Jim. She is also temperamental especially towards Tom; she expects too much from her son and is greatly disappointed in Him. Laura is caring, she wants good things for her children and keeps them on course where possible, and this she does when she prepares Laura for Jim. Amanda is also lonely, for she is single and deserted by her husband, frequent quarreling in the house also keeps her lonely (Bradford 1-2).
Jim is Tom’s friend at work and they were in the same high school with Laura. He is described as a well mannered, handsome and polite young man who studies public speaking so as to become an executive. He is empathetic; this is seen in how he encourages Laura to be confident and even dances with her. Jim is also truthful, this is seen in the way he tells Laura that he is engaged to be married.
How Laura’s relationship with Jim changed the tone of the play
Earlier in the play, we are told that Laura was shy and delicate just like her glass figurines. Her mother had tried to cheer her and find her a suitor to no avail. She could not go out like the others ladies, instead she remained fixed on her glass figurines.
Just before Jim came into the house, expectation was high; Amanda was trying all her best to prepare Laura for her suitor Jim. Everyone was cheerful, expectant and hoping for the best except Jim who had intentionally defaulted in paying electricity bill. Jim seemed not to care much for her sister Laura as he kept dragging his feet on bringing her a suitor.
We are told that Laura and Jim were in high school together, along with Tom. Laura had a childhood dream, to get married to Jim; he was the most handsome boy that had ever happened to her.
When Jim entered the house, he was perplexed as to the welcoming he received. Everything was ready and Amanda was cheerful, Laura on the other hand, was both surprised and excited as to the scene that was presented before her. She even fainted at the thought of meeting her dream man.
The tone of play changes when Jim reveals to Laura that he is engaged. Laura had hoped to finally find her man Jim, especially when he made the initiative to talk to her, but this did not work out, she was disappointed and dejected for the man was never going to be with her.
Aggressive tone is quite rampant towards the end of this play as Amanda furiously demands answers from Tom as to why he had brought someone’s fiancée. Anger flares in all direction from Amanda, while Laura cries uncontrollably. Tom decides to desert the family. He leaves his mother and sister helpless and jobless. This sentiment is shared by Amanda when she flares her anger at Tom towards the end of the play.
Laura is on a sad note having missed the opportunity to have her man. She is dejected and disappointed in what has happened. Amanda on the other hand is very much disappointed and regrets having spent a lot of cash on preparation of Laura for an engaged person. The tone is sad and everything looks gloomy as Tom leaves home for an adventure.
The story ends in an angry tone as anger flares everywhere, Amanda is very annoyed by Tom’s behavior of bringing an engaged friend to meet her sister. This enrages her and breaks the family code that was already loose and unstable due to hardships and conflicts. Tom therefore decides to leave her family and never returns (Bradford 1-2).
The play starts in a melancholic state and continues as family members struggle with hardships, Amanda is expecting too much from her children; Laura is very shy and delicate, while Tom is fantasizing about the world.
These young adults need to make it in life, the mother tries to make them so but they seem unprepared, the tone of the play starts in mild state, moves through a jovial state when Amanda and Laura meet Jim, but the tone moves back to an aggressive, angry as well as sad tone.
This is because of their disappointment in Jim and Tom who had brought him, the family breaks from Tom as he escapes and leaves his responsibilities (Pretorius 339-3560).
“The Book of the Dead Man (The Red Wheelbarrow).”Boulevard. 109-110. OpoJaz, Inc., 2010. Literary Reference Center.EBSCO.Web.
Bradford, Wade. “The Glass Menagerie.” About.com Guide. 02.05. 2011. 02.05.2011. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-glass-menagerie-overview-2713491
Pretorius, Elizabeth J. “Issues of complexity in reading: Putting Occam’s razor aside for now.” Southern African Linguistics & Applied Language Studies 28.4 (2010): 339-356. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO.Web.
Williams, William Carlos. “The Red Wheelbarrow.”Literature: Craft & Voice. Eds. Nicholas Delbanco and Alan Cheuse. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009.155.Print.