top-rated free essay

The Glass Menagerie - Character Analysis of Tom Wingfield

By Afur Mar 14, 2007 1179 Words
A brother, a son, a friend, Tom Wingfield the narrator and a character in the play, The Glass Menagerie, which is based on Toms memory of his many experiences living with his mum and sister during the Great Depression. As this is a recollection, the play has a hard time presenting the events objectively as the mind, most often times distort the facts of events. Tom is an aspiring poet, which works at a shoe warehouse to support the family to which is gets frustrated with due to the numbing routine of his job and escapes from it through movies, literature, and alcohol and thus many of his thoughts and actions might seems crude and disrespectful. On the other hand, when Tom resumes the role of narrator he seeks to provide a more detached explanation and assessment of what has been happening onstage, to which then the real and sometimes juvenile emotions he possesses when taking part in the plays action is subdued. This complicates Tom as a character, on the whole, because the audience would be confused at who Tom really is, is he a character that should be trusted or is he one that allows his emotions to affect his judgement.

Tom has two realities in which he constantly switches to and from, one is of the squalid, petty world of the Wingfield household and the slums of the shoe factory, whereas the other is filled with literature, movies writing poetry and dreams of escape, adventure, and higher things. He reads D. H. Lawrence which Amanda takes away criticizing the book and its author. Even though he clearly cares for them, he is frequently indifferent and even cruel toward his family. (QUOTE) It is evident at the end of the play that he has strong feelings towards his sister which reside within him but during the course of the play, contradictory actions were displayed. He cruelly deserts Laura and Amanda, and not once in the course of the play does he behave kindly or lovingly toward Laura—not even when he knocks down her glass menagerie. His job to him is like a dream, unreal in which he despises and would rather somebody pick up a crowbar and batter out his brains than go back in the mornings. Even the factory itself doesnt seem real, with celotex interior! With - fluorescent tubes!, however his dedication to his job is one indicator of his affection and sense of responsibility to support them, which ties him to his family.

One of the ways to counter his frustration he feels towards reality is by going to the movies. His love for movies stands out in the play because he goes to them very often which he uses as an escape technique to arguments with Amanda. When she nags him about various aspects of his personality or behavior, he would interrupt with a simple I am going to the movies and escapes that issue. He also uses the movies to partial fulfilling his dreams of escape from the Wingfield household, which is to go on an adventure, somewhere, however, he realizes the possibility of that happening and thus is just satisfied with going to the movies, People go to the movies instead of moving! Hollywood characters are supposed to have all the adventures for everybody in America, while everybody in America sits in a dark room and watches them have them!At the beginning of Scene Four, Tom regales Laura with an account of a magic show in which the magician managed to escape from a nailed-up coffin, 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 nail But then Tom continues with an sarcastic comment which sheds a light on Toms feelings towards his family and his job, as a kind of coffin—cramped, suffocating, and morbid—in which he is unfairly confined. There is a trick that would come in handy for me—get me out of this two-by-four situation! He also alluded to the audience in scene one that he was the opposite of a stage magician which is referring to the impossibility of escape for Tom. However, there is a promise of escape, represented by Toms missing father as he left and thus Tom believes that it is achievable. However, when it is done, instead of being like the magician and doing it without removing any nails, Tom would have to knock the whole coffin down as his departure would greatly affect the family economically and mentally. The electricity going out during Jims visit is also significant because it alludes of Toms failure to provide for the family. All along Tom has provided for the family financially but now he has failed and thus gives a chance for Amanda and Laura to be accustomed to the absence of Tom. Leading out of the Wingfields apartment is a fire escape with a landing. The fire escape represents exactly what its name implies: an escape from the fires of frustration and dysfunction that rage in the Wingfield household. Tom frequently steps out onto the landing to smoke, anticipating his eventual getaway.

Tom is a very complicated character to just pinpoint as a static or dynamic character due to his duel roles in the play and the confusion revolving around his realisation at the end of the book. Being that this play is a memory, Tom must have changed and is looking back because memories often involve confronting a past, in which one was less virtuous than one is now, which would categorize him as a dynamic character. On the other hand, considering his role as a character in the play, he was very static, sticking to his goals of adventure and keeping the general attitude of neglect towards his family throughout the play. However, in the end of the play, he has a sudden realisation, which could suggest the start of Toms change in character as he realises the role his family plays in giving his life sustenance and meaning. Overall, Tom is a very complicated person and thus is hard to point him in either direction of static or dynamic.

In conclusion, Toms role as narrator and character in the play further portrays the essential themes in the play, which were the difficulty of accepting reality, the impossibility of true escape and the subjective power of memory to manipulate the past. The use of his many escapes was a good example of Toms difficulty of accepting his reality, the realisation of the ties to his family that he still clings to relates to the theme of the impossibility of true escape and as Tom states, Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental, it is not realistic which shows that it is inevitable for bias thoughts that cloud the true incidents that occurred in the memory.

WORKS CITEDThe Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Character Analysis of the Glass Menagerie

    ...Tom Wingfield Tom’s double role in The Glass Menagerie—as a character whose recollections the play documents and as a character who acts within those recollections—underlines the play’s tension between objectively presented dramatic truth and memory’s distortion of truth. Unlike the other characters, Tom sometimes addresses the audie...

    Read More
  • Character Analysis: Glass Menagerie

    ...Character Sketch: The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams Tom Wingfield Tom Wingfield is a lot like his absent father. He dreams of adventure and leaves his responsibilities in order to find it as his father did. Being stuck at the warehouse, Tom is disappointed in his life. He’d come home late most days because he was at the movies. ...

    Read More
  • The Glass Menagerie Character Analysis

    ...The Glass Menagerie Character Analysis "The play is memory" (5). The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams is a play narrated by the character Tom about his memory of his life with his family in the thirties. Although he is absent for the majority of the latter half of the play, Tom is the main character. Tom is also the protagonist, despite...

    Read More
  • Character Analysis in the Glass Menagerie

    ...The Glass Menagerie The play, The Glass Menagerie was published in 1945, but the actual play takes place in the early 1900’s. To be more specific it takes place 1937, which was actually the time of the great depression. This contributes a lot to the setting of the play. It starts off in a little apartment that should be seen as a cozy littl...

    Read More
  • "The Glass Menagerie" – Character Analysis of Amanda Wingfield

    ...Amanda Wingfield is the most prominent and dynamic character in the play. She is described by Williams as "a little woman of great but confused vitality clinging frantically to another time and place". In the play, Amanda appears to be a paranoiac as she was constantly worrying about her family's future, and coming up with seemingly foolish ways...

    Read More
  • The Character of Amanda Wingfield in "The Glass Menagerie"

    ...Amanda The Character of Amanda Wingfield in "The Glass Menagerie" supplies an example of a complex individual whose communication and actions convey a slightly irritating and lonesome mother. Scene IV of "The Glass Menagerie," demonstrates these unique characteristics of Amanda. The scene takes place at about seven am the day after Tom and Aman...

    Read More
  • character biography Tom: the glass menagerie

    ...The Glass Menagerie: Character Biography: Tom Wingfield: Tom can be described as a tortured soul, living with his mother and bachelorette sister in a cramped apartment in St Louis. From a young age, Tom is forced into the role of being the man of the house as his father abandons the family. One can say that this is the cause of Tom’s de...

    Read More
  • Character Analyzation of The Glass Menagerie

    ... Character Analyzation in The Glass Menagerie Many people find it difficult to cope with reality. While most choose to press on through their struggles, some choose to ignore them completely. They engross themselves in their own little world in order to escape reality. We see various examples of this with the Wingfield family in Te...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.