SUMMER ASSIGNMENT FOR RISING SENIORS
Tennessee Williams begins The Glass Menagerie with a comment by Tom Wingfield, who serves as both narrator of and character within the play: “Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.” In one sentence, Williams has summarized the essence of all drama. To the very end of the play, he maintains a precarious balance between truth and illusion, creating in the process what he contends is the “essential ambiguity of man that I think needs to be stated.” 1 The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams’ first major play to appear on Broadway, is an autobiographical work. In it he delineates several personal and societal problems: the isolation of those who are outsiders for one reason or another, the hardships faced by single mothers, the difficulties a disability may create for a family, and the struggle of a young artist to begin his career. 2 Read The Glass Menagerie (1945) by Tennessee Williams and complete all parts of the assignment below. Moreover, you must complete the “Rising Senior Survival Guide” contained in this document. All work is due on the first day of class.
Magill on Literature Ibid
Summer Reading The Glass Menagerie
By Tennessee Williams
Look up information and record your findings for the following items. This information will help your overall understanding of the play. 1. A definition and brief background on the role of the ―drummer‖ in American society
2. What are jonquils? What do they look like and how much do they cost?
3. What is Guernica? Describe it and note some background information. What famous person is linked with it?
4. What is a Daumier print and what does it look like? Who is Daumier?
5. What is the DAR and how does one become a member?
6. What is Frigidaire? What products does it manufacture?
7. What are the Merchant Marines?
8. Contrast the ―cavalier‖ attitudes, manners, and mores of the pre-Civil War South vs. those of the ―mechanized‖ industrial antebellum South
Record your definitions for the following words below. 1. menagerie 2. conglomeration – 3. automaton – 4. ineluctably – 5. matriculating – 6. emissary – 7. elegiac – 8. beaux – 9. patronage – 10. fiasco – 11. archetype – 12. relic – 13. precipitated – 14. gesticulating – 15. insolence – 16. motley – 17. beseechingly – 18. endowments – 19. broods – 20. supercilious – 21. ulterior – 22. cotillion – 24. marquees 25. paragon 26. vestige 27. tribulations 28. gingerly 29. decorously 30. perturbation -
23. sashayed –
Scene 1 1. Reread the description of the setting at the beginning of the scene. Why is the physical setting of the play described in such careful detail? What feeling does the setting convey? 2. Tom is dressed in a merchant sailor uniform. What effect does his clothing have? Why does Tom‘s speech open with a comparison of his role to that of a stage magician? 3. Why does Tom contrast the social backgrounds of Spain and America in his opening speech? 4. Tom tells us that ―the play is memory.‖ Why is the drama styled as a memory play and what does this mean? What sets and staging techniques reinforce the idea of this being a memory play? How so? 5. What freedom does the play being a memory afford Tom? 6. Review Tom‘s monologue at the beginning of the scene and his interjections throughout. What two functions does Tom have in the play? What difference in temperament do you notice in Tom in these two different roles? What do we discover about Tom‘s life at home in...