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Topics: The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams, Lobotomy Pages: 14 (1745 words) Published: February 13, 2013
Advanced Placement in English Literature and Composition Individual Learning Packet

Teaching Unit

The Glass Menagerie
by Tennessee Williams

written by Elizabeth Osborne

Copyright © 2009 by Prestwick House Inc., P.O. Box 658, Clayton, DE 19938. 1-800-932-4593. www.prestwickhouse.com Permission to copy this unit for classroom use is extended to purchaser for his or her personal use. This material, in whole or part, may not be copied for resale.

ISBN 978-1-935464-19-8 Reorder No. 305033

The Glass Menagerie


The Glass Menagerie
By the end of this Unit, the student will be able to: 1. 2. trace the development of the motif of illusion/magic in the play. analyze the fantasy/reality dichotomy in the play and explain how each character fits into it. analyze Williams’s use of religious imagery and language in the play. analyze the use of props, music, and lighting to underscore symbols, tone, and theme in the play. examine the “sensitive artist” archetype within the play and explain how Tom uses words and writing as a means of self-empowerment and escape. explain what pathos is and how the playwright creates it. analyze Jim O’Connor and Mr. Wingfield as parallel characters. analyze each of the main characters and the relationships between them and explain why each character is static or dynamic. respond to multiple choice questions similar to those that will appear on the Advanced Placement in English Literature and Composition exam.

3. 4.


6. 7. 8.


10. determine whether the text makes a general statement about the middle class. 11. respond to writing prompts similar to those that will appear on the Advanced Placement in English Literature and Composition exam. 12. offer a close reading of The Glass Menagerie and support all assertions and interpretations with direct evidence from the text, from authoritative critical knowledge of the genre, or from authoritative criticism of the novel.



The Glass Menagerie


The Glass Menagerie
Background Lecture
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Thomas Lanier Williams, later known as Tennessee Williams, was born in Columbus, Mississippi, in 1911. His family moved around frequently, first in Mississippi, then to a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, where Williams spent most of his school years. He did not get along with his father, a traveling salesman; his mother, Edwina, was overbearing and somewhat hysterical, although supportive of her son’s desire to write. Williams also had a younger brother, Dakin. His older sister, Rose, was one of the most important figures in his life, and Williams and others described her as beautiful, sweet, and highly intelligent. Unfortunately, she also suffered from schizophrenia, which worsened as she got older. In 1929, Williams graduated from University City High School and enrolled at the University of Missouri. He transferred to several other schools and had to take two years off from college to work, but did finally graduate from the University of Iowa in 1938 with of bachelor of arts degree. The most devastating event of his life occurred before this, though. In 1937, his parents authorized a prefrontal lobotomy for Rose, who was growing more paranoid and troubled. The procedure involved inserting an ice pick through the patient’s eye socket to sever nerves that joined the prefrontal cortex to the rest of the brain; it was supposed to relieve psychiatric strain. Instead, it completely destroyed Rose mentally; she was never able to care for herself again. It also broke Williams’s heart and caused him to suffer his own mental collapse. Williams would later say that the difference between himself and Rose was that he had a way to deal with his fragile mental state—he could write. He turned Rose’s suffering into a short story and then a play, The Glass Menagerie. Laura, Tom’s fragile, sensitive sister in the play, suffers from a...
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