The Glass Menagerie Social Commentary

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The Glass Menagerie Social Commentary
When Tennessee Williams wrote his The Glass Menagerie, he intended for it to correlate directly to the everyday lives of the people around him in his time. He was very successful in this aspect. The main aspect of life that Williams intended to apply to his play was the struggle of African-Americans in their everyday life. The characters’ struggles in this play reflect some of the conflicts that black people faced every day in their lives. The social commentary made in this play is about the general roughness of life for them. Due to Williams’ rough life and upbringing as a child, many of the conflicts in this story reflect things that happened to him through his life, and the lives of those around him. Because of his experiences, he was able to let this pour out into his play, which was seen all over by many whites, especially. Tennessee Williams wrote this play intending to make social commentary relating to the struggle of African-Americans in everyday life and his characters showed that by failing to accept reality and by having difficulty escaping from everyday life.

The main form of the American culture that Tennessee Williams devoted this play to was the struggle of the African-Americans. The blacks were just at the beginning of starting to fight for their equality when this was published. As this premiered on Broadway, many whites were exposed to this and other types of literature like it, such as A Raisin in the Sun. Tennessee Williams used his characters to embody the feeling of blacks who were being put down by white people. The social commentary that is being used in this is the rebellion of blacks against white people. Just like Tom Wingfield struggled against his boring daily life, the blacks were struggling against what went on within their lives (discrimination). Laura and Amanda were also symbolized as delicateness and abandonment, which is what Tom did at the end of the play. The two were practically helpless when Tom abandoned them, and that shows how much they relied on him to be able to live their lives. Those characters are how Williams was able to make his two main points, which were accepting reality and failure to escape.

The first form of showing the outside world around him through his characters was their disability of accepting reality. Just like the people that surrounded him, the characters in Williams play had a very difficult time accepting reality. Because of this, each member in the play has chosen to occupy his own world with illusions of what they wish for in the world that provides comfort. Laura especially cannot bring herself to accept the reality of the world, and she withdraws into her own state of mind relying on her collection of glass animals. An example of this in the real world was where blacks thought that they had more rights than they really did. African-Americans believed that they were equal to whites in the society that they lived in, when the reality was that they simply did not. Whites were too oppressive to allow the blacks to do anything, blacks withdrew into the state of mind that they were equal in society to whites. Throughout his play, Williams constantly makes Jim, who is supposed to be the “realist” in this play, rely on planning for his future to be him publicly speaking. This is him having illusions of what he wants to do- but not him going out and accomplishing it, which, in turn, makes him the same as all of the other characters.

The second thing that Williams did in The Glass Menagerie to compare the American culture was to illustrate the failure of escaping the current predicament of the Tom Wingfield. As he comes home one night, he relates to Laura how he had seen a magic show in which a magician removed himself from a coffin that had been nailed shut. Tom says to her, “But the wonderfullest trick of all was the coffin trick. We nailed him into a coffin and he got out of the coffin without removing one...
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