Set in the 1930’s, in a time where hope was scarce and the depression was dominant, Tennessee William’s play, The Glass Menagerie, tells the tale of a disappointed family whose life is dull and bland. However, Tennessee Williams gives his play substance through the use of alternative techniques, and as a result the audience and reader’s of the text are left captivated and intrigued. Williams’s play is a memory play, based on his life and family, and this in effect gives it its realistic feel. In scene one of the play Williams writes, ‘The scene is memory and it is therefore non-realistic. Memory takes a lot of poetic licence. It omits some details: others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominately with the heart. The interior is rather dim and poetic’, and this is exactly how the play is written. The characters don’t acknowledge the audience; some events are exaggerated while others are downplayed and William’s techniques provide subliminal messages, filling in the gaps and adding essence to the play. Williams’s unique use of a screen displaying legends and pictures, specific music, settings and lighting gain the attention of his audience. His use of dialogue, symbols and characterisation also reinforce his themes of hope, failed dreams and the disintegration of his family.
The Glass Menagerie, is centred around Williams’ memories of his family and is told through the fictional characters of the Wingfield family. The Wingfield family consists of Amanda, a controlling mother living through her former glory, Tom, Amanda’s son who is desperately seeking escape and Laura, Amanda’s crippled daughter who lacks self-confidence. For this family, life is difficult as Amanda’s husband abandoned them, leaving her to raise her crippled daughter who has little hope of normality and her frustrated son who’s bored of his job and life and is counting down the days until his escape. Each of these characters struggles to accept the harsh reality of their dull lives, so they try to escape it through illusions and fantasies.
Throughout his play, Williams’s uses a screen on which legends and images are projected from behind. This is situated on a section of the wall between the front room and the dining room, and when it is not in use it is impossible to differentiate from the rest. This screen allows important images or words about the scene to be displayed and prepares the audience for what is going to occur in the scene. It is in this way that Williams maintains his audience’s interest as it allows them to gain both a visual reference to what’s about to happen as well as a visual reminder of what has previously happened and/or is happening. An example of this is in scene five where the screen legend reads, ‘Annunciation’. Before this scene, Amanda had been begging Tom to bring home a gentlemen caller for Laura in order to marry her off as Amanda will not always be able to take care of her. In this scene Tom announces he will be bringing home Jim, a gentleman caller for Laura. Amanda is ecstatic about this as it creates the chance for Laura to lead a normal life despite her limp. The legend, Annunciation, is a religious reference. It relates to religion where the annunciation refers to the coming of a saviour, so for the Wingfield family, Jim is set up as their saviour. As a result of displaying this legend on the screen, the audience is also able to feel happiness and relief for Amanda as they await the arrival of Jim.
The screen also displays images throughout the play. These images reinforce what the character is doing or thinking at that particular moment in time and show the audience that this is an important part of the play. Through displaying these images William’s engages his audience’s interest as they are able to relate the images to their own lives and feel the emotions that coincide with them whether they be happiness, sadness, empathy or any other...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document