The role of the family in the shaping of the lives of the character’s in "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams.
Families are a compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter."(Brad Henry)
Probably the strongest influence on our lives is our family. Our birth order, the personalities of our parent(s), the way we were treated by siblings, the family socioeconomic status, their education, the place where we live - all of these shape us greatly at the time when we are most vulnerable to being formed- our childhoods.
Tennessee William's play "The Glass Menagerie" is considered by many critiques to be “an autobiographical play about William’s life, the characters and story mimicking his own more closely than any of his other works” (Wikipedia.org). As in his own life, family played an important role in the shaping of the character’s lives in his play. In the following paper I will present some arguments in support of this opinion.
The main characters of the play are: Amanda Wingfield, Laura Wingfield and Tom Wngfield. We don’t know much about Mr. Wingfield. His life was not a factor in the play. However, he left his family and this certainly had an impact on it. His wife, Amanda, regrets that she married a man who worked for a telephone company. Throughout the play one can see that in her opinion this marriage eliminated the chance of a good life she could have had by not marrying him. Among her gallants were “some of the most prominent young planters of the Mississippi Delta - planters and sons of planters”(Tennessee, 754). Instead of marrying one of them she married a telephone company worker and because of that, in her opinion, neither she nor her children managed to be successful in the modern world.
Mrs. Wingfield's daughter, Laura Wingfield, is presented in the play as being ultimately shy and “to some extend unsociable” (Hubpages.com). One of the reasons for this shyness was her crippled leg. The other reason is that her mother put herself before her daughter. This can could be seen in the beginning of the Scene Six: "Well, in the South we had so many servants. Gone, gone, gone. All vestige of gracious living! Gone completely! I wasn’t prepared for what the future brought me. All of my gentlemen callers were sons of planters and so of course I assumed that I would be married to one and raise my family on a large piece of land with plenty of servants. But man proposes—and woman accepts the proposal! To vary that old, old saying a bit—I married no planter! I married a man who worked for the telephone company! A telephone man who—fell in love with long-distance." (Tennessee 754).
Instead of creating a favorable atmosphere for Laura, she prefers to always put herself at the center of attention even in front of a supposed gentleman caller on her daughter. This can be seen as a proof of Mrs. Wingfield considering herself as being more important than her daughter. Moreover, this contributes to Laura’s feeling of shyness. Compounding this, Mrs. Wingfield uses the contrast between herself and her daughter to emphasize the glamour of her own youth. Moreover, she says she would be glad if Laura could have had the same opportunities as she did. That would she thinks have boosted her feeling of confidence and contributed to the decrease of her shyness. However, Amanda did not fail completely. Shy people usually do not have the courage to contradict the decisions of others. Nevertheless, there are some details in the play that show Laura being not that desperate after all. For example, Laura spending days walking the streets instead of going to typing class could be the result of this unfavorable contrast between mother and daughter. Through this example we can see that Laura has actually developed a will of her own however secret, which is not really acknowledged throughout the play.
In the play, it isn't that Mrs. Wingfield...
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