The glass menagerie
Tennessee Williams uses several techniques to express social criticism in his play ‚The Glass Menagerie’. The genre of epic drama gives an appropriate foundation for the author to apply other and different techniques, which will be demonstrated with some examples in the following sections. They will be discussed in an order of how they could appear to the reader or spectator.In an epic drama the spectator is supposed to be an observer and not to identify him- or herself with any characters in the play. The purpose is to show a world view, therefore T.W.’s ‘Glass Menagerie’ is not to be seen as a family drama, but as the Wingfield family representing America in the 1930’s. Tom Wingfield as epic narrator plays a very important role for this purpose, as he explicitly comments on the social situation.Tom steps on stage and gives an introduction to the audience. But this introduction is not only about the setting of the play, but also contains criticism on american society in the time of the Great Depression already in his first few lines:I reverse it [time] to that quaint period, the thirties, when the huge middle class of America was matriculating in a school for the blind. ConclusionThere is no order of the techniques, simply because of their different natures. It is Jim who stands for 'the long delayed but always expected something that we live for' (Narrator Tom on Jim, page 235). That's when adventure becomes available to the masses! (page 282)Since he is fed up with this situation he finally decides to change it: 'I'm tired of the movies and I am about to move!'(page 283)This decision may distinguish him again from the others but does not lead to freedom for him, as the reader is told in his closing speech as narrator. Other techniques like the epic narrator, screen devices and music show up from time to time, constantly interfering the flow of the play. Men like him, who go to the movies to escape their reality:All of those glamerous people - having adventures - hogging it all, gobbling the whole thing up! [. One could say that American society is handicapped by the Black Friday, left with little self-confidence, being afraid of or blind for international affairs hiding in a movie- and Dance Hall world. The stage set is always present and therefore a constant reminder of the social background. SymbolsThe fire escape as central entrance and exit to an apartment also stands for the longed for escape of the people, resulting from their desperation because of the living circumstances:'[. , 233)The scene gives the impression of crowded and poor places. Tennessee Williams is admired for the theatricality of his plays and for introducing literary, specifically poetic, devices into the theater. In The Glass Menagerie particularly, he relies on the craft of modern theater — on such devices as lighting and sound techniques — to enhance the effectiveness of his themes, themes which are not difficult to recognize Throughout this play, the characters are tempted toward illusion when they find reality too painful. Although the illusions of some characters are more socially acceptable, even typical, than others, Williams suggests that the “American dream” is as illusory as more overt psychological illnesses and that any given manifestation of illusion is as understandable, even acceptable, as any other one. Even Jim O’Connor, the character an audience would likely describe as closest to “normal,” in other words, does not distinguish between reality and fantasy. Jarka M. Burian, writing in International Dictionary of Theatre-1: Plays, stated that each of the Wingfields “has a secret life and dream that inherently has little likelihood of actualization.” Furthermore, in this play Williams suggests that the most specific arena of confinement, the family, is also the primary motivation for fantasy. Freedom equals freedom from familial responsibilities; yet since each character either attempts to achieve conventional...
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