The Glass Menagerie

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To: Ms. Sykes

From: Shawn Ticknor

Assignment: Research Paper

English 1302

CRN #: 87474

July 30, 2011

Thesis Statement: The characters in the play put on display and show the struggle that families have to endure during turbulent economic times, both internally and externally. The Wingfield family exhibits the struggle between the parent and child, the normal human tendency to escape reality to avoid unhappiness, and the ability to experience regret. I. Parent and Child

A. Amanda and Tom
1. Amanda’s imperfections
2. Dependence vs. independence
3. Blame and guilt
4. Embarrassment

B. Amanda and Laura
1. Suffocating mother
2. Unheard demands

II. Reality and Illusion

A. Amanda
1. Living in the Past - Jonquils
2. Living in the Past – Seventeen gentlemen callers

B. Tom
1. Magic Shows
2. Movies
3. Drinking

C. Laura
1. Her Glass Menagerie
2. Walks in the Park

III. Regret

A. Amanda choice for a husband

B. Abandonment of Laura

Concluding Statement: The epiphany moment of the play is expressed in the three main themes; the struggle between the parent and child, the normal human tendency to escape reality to avoid unhappiness, and the ability to experience regret.

A Lost World

In the play, The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, the playwright uses various themes to express what the meaning of the play conveys. The play takes place during the Great Depression in the 1930’s, prior to World War II. The Wingfield family consists of three members, Amanda, Tom, and Laura. Amanda is an overly aggressive, old-fashioned mother who lives in the past and demands respect from her children, Tom and Laura. Amanda’s relationship with her children begins to dissipate as the dreams of her children, Tom and Laura, are not shared by their mother. As with most families during this decade, the Wingfields are experiencing extreme economic hardship and a lack of fulfillment in their lives. Mr. Wingfield, husband to Amanda, and father of Tom and Laura, is absent in the play and has no role other than being a symbol of abandonment. Mr. Wingfield abandons his family prior to the start of the play and has left them all alone to fend for themselves. Mr. Wingfield's abandonment from his family is not only reflected in the play's theme, but has influenced the characters' identities and actions throughout the play. Tom Wingfield is the narrator of the play and it is through his persona that the themes of the play are revealed. The Wingfield family members begin to engage in a world of make believe to try and escape their daily struggles. These escape mechanisms only serve as a mask to cover up the truth in their lives; the truth of being bored, alone, and unhappy. In the end, Tom Wingfield becomes a carbon copy of his father and eventually abandons his mother and sister. The characters in the play put on display and show the struggle that families have to endure during turbulent economic times, both internally and externally. In the play, The Glass Menagerie, the Wingfield family shows the meaning of the play; the struggle between the parent and child, the normal human tendency to escape reality to avoid unhappiness, and the ability to experience regret.

Tennessee Williams brilliantly portrays the struggle between parent and child throughout the play. Amanda Wingfield is having a difficult time adjusting to life without a husband as she tries to navigate through life as a single mother. Kimberly Hall, a literary critic notes, “Amanda’s home and life are a failure: a runaway husband, resistant son, dependent daughter, and economic deprivation. Amanda is unhappy, with two children that don’t live up to her expectations, but tries to maintain a lost gentility in the midst of overwhelming poverty and cajoling her children into her idea of happiness” [ (Hall) ]. Amanda’s biggest adversary in...
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