A Comparison of The Glass Menagerie and Hamlet
The Glass Menagerie is a play that involves characters like Amada, Laura, Tom, his friend Jim and their father a character who never physically appears only that he is said to have left them since he was constantly away for a job. Laura is disabled, and her mother always worries that she might never find a “gentleman caller”. The Hamlet on the other handle revolves around the life of the dead King Hamlet’s family in old Denmark kingdom. Hamlet is the Son of a king who had died not long before. He was the heir to the throne but when his father the king died, Hamlet’s uncle Claudius took over. As if that was not enough, Claudius married Gertrude, the late king’s wife. A ghost that belonged to Hamlet’s father appeared to him, informed him that it is Claudius who killed him by having poison put in his ear. The king’s ghost then asks Hamlet to revenge for his death. The unravelling of incidences in the Helmet and the Glass Menagerie, the memories and the future happenings are comparable. This essay will focus on the influence of the past on the present based on the incidences that took place in the Hamlet and the Glass Menagerie and how they influenced the lives of the involved characters.
In both the Hamlet and the Glass Menagerie, a few of the characters have known each other for a long time some of which have high expectations for each other with the hope of being in a relationship and spend a life together. In the Hamlet, Ophelia and Hamlet were said to have been in a relationship, but Ophelia was instructed against entertaining Hamlet into her life. As her brother Laertes makes preparations to leave for France, Ophelia is cautioned by her Brother to avoid falling in love with Hamlet, and he refers to Hamlet as a person who is high above her level to be able to love her honourably. He mentions that Hamlet had a far greater responsibility of taking care of his feelings as well as those of the kingdom which means that the marriage between the two might be impossible. Ophelia’s father Polonius then makes enquiries from her on what the brother was speaking about, and she opens up to her father. She told her father that the brother spoke of “something touching Lord Hamlet” (Shakespeare, p89). When Polonius enquires about her relationship with Hamlet, she discloses to her father that Hamlet speaks of being in love with her. The father rebukes this act and warns his daughter not to fall for the false vows that Hamlet makes to her. He warns her against being associated with him.
After the death of Hamlet’s father, Hamlet seemed to have gone mad, and his reactions were far more erratic. With everyone not knowing the cause of such behaviours, Polonius assumed that his reaction was because his daughter Ophelia had refused to reciprocate his love for her by loving him back. At one point when Polonius sends out his servant to spy on Laertes, Ophelia enters the house looking upset and tells the father that Hamlet had at one point confronted her looking unkempt and with wild eyes. Hamlet out of anger grabbed her but did not even make a word. Polonius concluded that irrational behaviour was because Ophelia has kept a distance from Hamlet since her father warned her and that all these forms of reactions that Hamlet had been due to the love Hamlet had for Ophelia. Polonius was for the idea that this might have been the reason as to why Hamlet was in a strange mood, an idea that he rushed to tell Claudius.
To prove that Hamlet’s madness was due to the love he had for Ophelia, a plan was devised to have both Hamlet and Ophelia converse as the father listens. Ophelia was then ordered to approach Hamlet and tell him that she would reciprocate by loving him back since he seemed to be so much in love with her. Surprisingly, Hamlet denies having loved her at any point. Hamlet makes known to Ophelia that humankind is wretched and that she should not let herself to be a “breeder of sinners” (Shakespeare, 122). He even urged Ophelia to join the nunnery. Hamlet makes a critic of women where he argues that women make men behave like monsters and that they always paint their faces which makes them look more beautiful than they are supposed to be. Hamlet then denounced humankind, women and Ophelia and made known his wish to Ophelia of bringing all marriages to an end (Shakespeare, 122). Ophelia could not believe the words that were uttered by Hamlet, and she suffered heartbreak after being warned by the father not to associate herself with Hamlet since he might not be able to love her. This heartbreak was then aggravated by her father’s death which then made her commit suicide by drowning herself.
In comparison with The Hamlet, the Glass Menagerie is a play that revolves around the life of disabled Laura who thinks that she might never get a man at any point in her life. Her mother however believes that this is possible and when Laura makes no efforts to get herself a man after she dropped out from the business school (Tennessee, scene ii), Amada her mother tells her that she should not spend all her life playing with her glass menagerie and that she should find something meaningful to do with her life. Laura, however, feels inferior and her disability barricades her from exploring and venturing into life.
Meanwhile, Amada had asked Tom her son to look for a gentleman caller for his sister at the warehouse where he used to work. Tom hand invited his friend Jim for supper. Laura had revealed to her mother that she had a high school crush who to some extent found her unique from the others. When she realizes that the person who had been invited over for supper is the same guy she had a crush on back in high school, she was reluctant to open the door for him when the doorbell rang. She even fell sick and could not take supper with the rest of the family. Her mother, however, had ensured that she looked decent to have something to attract the visitor. Jim was said to have been in the singing group in high school, and as they converse with Laura, he is carried away by a song that was singing from a distance, and he decided to dance with Laura. As they danced, Jim told Laura that she was exceptional, referred her to “blue roses” (Tennessee, scene II) the famous name that she used to call Laura in High school and ended up kissing her (Tennessee, scene VII). Laura’s hopes are shuttered when Jim confesses that he is an engaged man and that he had to leave. The only man that Laura had ever loved was gone which led to a lot of pain to Laura, the mother and the whole family.
Both, Laura and Ophelia despite living a different life can be compared to that they all at one point feel shuttered and restrained by things that are beyond their control. Laura feels that now that she is decapitated, she can only spend her life playing with her glass menagerie. She even dropped from business school and spent her time going to the zoo, to the museum and at the houses where they “raise the tropical flowers.” (Tennessee, Scene ii). Feeling useless also made her think that she might not even ever get a man in her life despite her mother’s famous motivational story of how at one point she had seventeen gentlemen watchers within one day. The lives of the two characters were not so different since each one of them had their battles that they even never knew how to win. When an opportunity to advance and make life better came along, Laura played around with it, dropped from school and continued with her normal old fashioned life playing with her glass menagerie and spending time in the house. When Jim, Laura’s high school crush came to visit them, Laura practically fell sick. When she was motivated, she took the opportunity with passion, danced with him, showed him her possessions, received a kiss from him but when she thought that it was the beginning of a life she was so much longing for, Jim made his confession that he was engaged to someone. In a blink of a second, all she was hoping for was long gone including her brother who later confessed that he would never forget her.
Hamlet was a dreamer who longed for the best in his life and everyone’s life. Being the rightful heir to his father’s throne, he felt shuttered that his father’s most inferior brother had taken his position and ended up marrying his mother. This in combination with his father’s death made him long to die. Unfortunately, he did not know where to begin and what exactly to so that he can put things in order. Things seemed to be beyond his control, and he ended up suffering psychologically. The lady to which he had confessed his love for was not willing to be with him after she was advised by her father to stay away from him. Nonetheless, Hamlet was still confused on how to fight his battles. When an opportunity prevailed itself when his father’s ghost appeared to him informed him that it is his uncle who was responsible for the king’s death and asked him to revenge for his death, Hamlet felt motivated (Shakespeare, p189). He embraced the opportunity and devised plans on how to destroy his uncle. Just like the way Laura dropped from the business school hurting his mother so much, Hamlet ended up killing his lover’s father, and this drove her crazy.
After Hamlet realized what killed his father, he made a play that captured similar incidence based on how the death of his father occurred. He was hoping to see his uncle the king react, and this would make him guilty. The most expected thing occurred, and when the point of putting poison into the sleeping king’s ear came, Hamlet’s uncle left the scene. Unfortunately, when Hamlet followed him, he found him praying, and he was reluctant to kill him since he thought that if he killed him at this juncture, his soul would go to heaven and this would not have been enough revenge. This hesitation can be compared to that of Laura to meet Jim her longtime crush (Tennessee, scene vii).
When the king realized that Hamlet might be dangerous, he decided to send him away. He even planned a fight against him and Laertes, the son of Polonius who was murdered by Hamlet. This was vengeance, and Laertes would be so much willing to engage in a fight with Hamlet and destroy him. Claudius poisoned the blade that was to be used by Laertes so that when the blade cuts through the fresh of Hamlet, this will result in his death. Hamlet refused to take the poisoned wine that Claudius offered to him. When the queen took the wine, she could not resist but die (Shakespeare, p189). Nonetheless, Hamlet was struck with the poisoned sword, but he managed to win the fight by slaughtering Laertes with the same sword. Hamlet then realized Claudius’ plans, and he made him drink the poison. This was an opportunity that he was so passionate about and he could not let go. With high expectations that this was over, he lost his whole family, and he also died losing everything that he ever longed for. This moment can also be compared to the moment when Laura was so much passionate about having Jim in her life and then all was shuttered after Jim’s confession, and she lost it all.
Both the Glass Menagerie and the Hamlet are comparable regarding the tension that was being experienced in the families. Tom and his mother were always quarrelling about various issues like spending time doing a job that he did not like, always going to the movie every night, failing to pay for electricity and also bringing into the house an engaged man who Amada hoped that would take Laura as his spouse. Hamlet, on the other hand, was not in good terms with his uncle the king since he had immediately married the fallen king’s wife. Hamlet also thought that he was the rightful heir to the throne to which his uncle was now sitting on. He also knew that his uncle killed the king that Hamlet was always looking for a way to revenge for his father’s death as he was advised by his father’s ghost (Shakespeare, p40).
Both the Hamlet and the Glass Menagerie can be compared in that the incidences that take place in both the writings depend on what had happened in the past. The present characters life is influenced by what happened in the past. Laura is struggling with her longtime disability which to a great extent influences her life. She then meets her high school crush the only person she has ever loved. Her hopes however never bore fruits since Jim was already engaged. Hamlet, on the other hand, is possessed with the vengeance of his father’s death. Along the way despite having taken the revenge with his dying breath, he lost everything his family and the throne that he always thought that he was the rightful heir
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