The Glass Menagerie

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The theme of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie is conflict. The play contains both internal and external conflict. The absence of Tom's father forces external turmoil and conflict between Tom the protagonist, and his mother the antagonist. The internal conflict is seen within Tom through his constant references to leaving home and his selfishness. The play is about a young aspiring poet named Tom, who works at a shoe warehouse. Tom is unhappy with is life at home mainly because of his overbearing, over protective mother named Amanda. Tom also has a sister within the play named Laura who chooses to isolate herself from the rest of society. During the play Tom's relationship with his mother is filled with very harsh and abrasive arguments. The constant bickering and aggravation Tom endures leads him into a state of negligence and cruelty towards his family. Tom then seeks adventure and comfort by going out to the movies every night. As a result, Amanda makes accusations about his visits to the movies and believes he is hiding something. Amanda and Tom have a large argument that ends with Tom insulting his mother by calling her a "witch". After apologizing Tom is granted the task of finding Laura a male caller. Tom introduces Laura to one of her previous classmates named Jim O'Connor and she soon learns he is engaged. Amanda accuses Tom of introducing the two for amusement and proceeds to make comments about his selfish nature. Tom, exasperated by his mother's comments decides to leave home for good. Throughout the play Tom is portrayed as selfish, cowardly, and a dreamer. William's depiction of Tom is that of a selfish character. Tom's selfishness is seen in the constant references to his dreams of adventure and cruelty towards Amanda and Laura. Instead of caring for his mother and sister, Tom chooses to engage in his own contentment by going to the movies every night. For example, Amanda says, "Don't let anything interfere with your selfish pleasure! Just go, go, go – to the movies!"(446). Here, Amanda insists that Tom is only concerned with his own obligations and no one else's. Furthermore, the inference can be made that Amanda views Tom as a self-centered person and realizes he is unlikely to change his selfish ways. Tom's character is similar to the portrayal of Jessie in Marsh Norman's night Mother. Jessie and Tom both insist on ignoring the feelings of their family members, and therefore feed into their egocentric natures. Jessie's omniscient attitude within the play proves she only cares about her feelings and disregards anyone that opposes her. For instance, Jessie says, "but it's my day, so it's mine to wonder about, not his" (Norman 1467). The ironic use of "mine" and "not his" within the quote pinpoint Jessie's selfish nature because in all actuality a day does not belong to anybody. Referring to the day as just hers proves that Jessie is only interested in her own personal life and is not willing to share it with anyone else. The idea that Tom is depicted as a selfish character is also supported by Eric Levy the author of 'Through Soundproof Glass': The Prison of Self-Consciousness when he says, "But Amanda insists that his desire to leave home is simply a manifestation of selfishness…he will end up as faithless and irresponsible as his father"(Levy 3). In the quote, Levy explains that Amanda realizes Tom is selfish because of his decision to leave home. Also the comparison was made between Tom and his father in order to show Toms father was also selfish. In conclusion, the depiction of Tom within the play proved that he was a selfish character. Tom is also portrayed as a cowardly within the play. Throughout the play Tom often displays his cowardly manner by his references to leaving his job and family just as his father did. Tom's eagerness to quit his job and abandon his family and responsibilities truly resemble a true coward. For example, Tom explains his unrealistic plans of leaving to Jim when he...
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