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Glass Menagerie - Characters

By DYlanBell Mar 31, 2014 1056 Words
In plays, writers position the audience so that we feel sympathy for some characters and not for others. The Glass Menagerie, written by Tennessee Williams is about one families struggle with each other and the society. Williams uses the characterisation of Laura, Tom and Jim to make us feel sympathy for Laura and Tom, whilst we dislike Jim. In the Glass Menagerie, Williams positions us so that we feel sympathy for Laura. By most readers she is generally considered the main protagonist of the story or the one sympathise most with out of all the characters. She lived in a day where there was no sympathy for the disabled, any such allowances or even kindness from others. Even her own mother did not want to admit or talk about how her daughter was disabled. When Amanda is shouting at Tom about being selfish she says “An unmarried sister, who’s crippled and has no job.” This is the only time Amanda does talk about Laura’s disability and it is insulting her. This makes us feel very sympathetic towards Laura as we are not used to mothers who start insulting their children by calling them cripple, ugly and useless. We also feel sympathy for Laura when Jim shows his affection towards her. “Somebody-ought to-ought to-kiss you, Laura!” Right after saying this he tells Laura that he won’t be able to speak to her again as he is engaged, “I go out all the time with a girl named Betty!” This not only makes the audience dislike Jim but also make us feel very sorry for Laura. Jim was the first man that Laura thought liked her and then he announces right after kissing her, he is engaged. Throughout the Glass Menagerie, Laura does act childish at times by leaving her typewriting course and collecting glass figurines however; I think she attains the reader’s sympathy. With a weird mother, being disabled and a man kissing her then saying he is engaged, Laura gets my sympathy over most of the other characters. Throughout The Glass Menagerie, William’s positions us in a way that we feel sorry for Tom. The play is told through his memory so I think we automatically feel sympathy for Tom right from the very start.

He never had the chance to grow up and progress into adulthood normally. His mother, Amanda, forced him to start working as soon as he could to provide for his family. He had to neglect his own wants and desires to provide for Laura and Amanda. Amanda says “Don’t let anything interfere with your selfish pleasure!” This is very unfair by Amanda because as far as we know she hardly brings in any money for the family. Tom just wants to go out and have some fun, something he never got to do growing up. Even though it doesn’t seem like it, Tom wants the best for his family, especially Laura. She is one of the only reasons he stays in town working for his family. Tom could have left his family on their own while he earns almost three times the amount of money he is now. Instead, he stayed with them for as long as possible before his mother basically drove him out. Even though Tom payed the rent, water, electricity and most other bills, Amanda thought she still ran the house and made Tom listen to everything she said. “I will not let that filth be read in my house!” This is just an example of where Tom wants to read in a house that he is paying for and Amanda still tries to control what books he reads. Tom does leave Laura and Amanda in the end of the Glass Menagerie; however I do not feel like this is his fault. Tom was forced to work for his family as soon as he could; he never got the chance to grow up. He also had his mother, Amanda who wanted to control everything Tom and Laura did, he had a lot to deal which is why I feel sympathetic towards Tom. In The Glass Menagerie, Williams creates the character Jim O’Connor so we do not feel sympathy for him. He is an arrogant, annoying and weird person who leaves Laura distraught. We do not feel any sympathy for Jim when he is with Laura. He pretends to take a liking to Laura and then kisses her. Right after doing this he announces that he is engaged. At the end of the play, “Laura leans over the candle and blow it out.” This is symbolic of how her life is over, the one thing she looked forward to in life, finding a husband, had been shattered by Jim O’Connor.

He doesn’t even feel bad for what he had just done to her. When Jim is first talking to Laura, he may seem happy but not for the reasons we think. He is only happy because he is so wonderful that he can have such an effect on her. After talking about how he won’t call Laura again and how he has a fiancée. “Laura sways slightly forward and grips the arm of the sofa. He fails to notice, now enrapt in his own comfortable being.” This just shows how Jim does not care about anyone other than himself. He is so engaged in showing off about his fiancée, Jim doesn’t realise that Laura has just collapsed Jim Wingfield is a selfish and thoughtless character who does not think about anyone but himself. Williams portrays Jim as someone who we are not meant to feel sympathy for and I think he has succeeded. Most of the characters in The Glass Menagerie are slightly out of the ordinary however writers can make us feel sympathy for almost any character. Tennessee Williams has done a very good job at positioning us in certain ways so that we feel sympathy for characters. He has positioned us so that we feel sympathy for Laura and Tom but not Jim. I enjoyed reading The Glass Menagerie as it showed me how important our feelings are towards characters in a play. If there were no characters I could sympathise with, then to be honest I don’t think I could enjoy a play

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