False Hope

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Leanne Whittemore
Lecturer: John McDonough
ENGL 299-014
Essay #1
False Hope

The characters in The Glass Menagerie all hope for a better future which is filled with success and happiness. This hope flickers throughout the play and is finally put out all together in the closing actions of the play. In The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, this sense of hope is symbolized by light. It is shown in the very descriptive stage directions, the specific objects pertaining to light like candles and lamps, and by the colorful images of rainbows throughout the play.

While providing the characters with actions the very descriptive stage directions also provide a sense of emotions for them to act out. In scene six while Laura and Amanda are waiting excitingly for Jim to come over, William’s describes Laura as being “piece of translucent glass touched by light, given a momentary radiance, not actual, not lasting" (1748). William’s uses this idea of light to describe Laura’s emotions and feelings during this scene. By stating Laura was “given a momentary radiance” Williams’ illustrates Laura’s hope of finding someone to love. In scene seven, when Laura and Jim are talking, Williams uses descriptive stage directions to describe Laura’s feeling of hope in regard to light. This happens right around the time that Jim attempts to being engaged. The directions say that Jim smiles at Laura "with a warmth and charm which lights her inwardly" (1762). Then, when she finds out that Jim is engaged, the stage directions describe how the "holy candles on the altar of Laura's face have been snuffled out" (1768). Both descriptions show hope in Laura, while one is her hope that Jim is single, and the other being her hope being destroyed when she finds out that he is not. From the beginning, the directions, as well as the dialogue, directly tell the readers that the play is dimly lighted (1723). Then in the beginning of the final scene, all the lights go out...