The Glass Menagerie and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape Essa

The Glass Menagerie was written by Tennessee Williams and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape was written by Peter Hedges. The first main difference between these two works is that The Glass Menagerie was a memory play that premiered in 1944 and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape was a novel in 1991 that was later adapted into a film in 1993.

The main factor in The Glass Menagerie is that the characters and the story mimic the author’s own life, which he includes himself, his mother and sister as the representation of the characters in the play and how his emotions are depicted towards his family.

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is separate and not inspired by the author’s life, but instead about a man named Gilbert that has to take care of his disabled brother and his obese mother, which gets in the way when love walks into his life.

The similarities and differences that both stories have are the characters and the themes, such as escapism and the interactions between the main character and his family.

The character, Amanda, from The Glass Menagerie is similar to Gilbert’s mother, Bonnie, from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape because their characteristics are alike and their major role in their respective stories. For Amanda’s character, “Don’t say crippled! You know that I never allow that word to be used!” (80) and “One Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain-your mother received-seventeen!-gentleman callers! Why sometimes there weren’t chairs enough to accommodate them all” (33). This shows that Amanda really cares about her daughter, Laura, and that she depends on Tom to take care of the family, by having a job and paying the bills.

The difference between Amanda and Bonnie is that Amanda dwells in the past and annoys Tom by exaggerating the stories to him. For Bonnie’s character, after Arnie gets arrested for climbing up the water tower, Bonnie finally leaves the house after 7 years and orders the policemen inside the police station to release her son. This shows that Bonnie is very courageous and that she loves her son very much. Bonnie is very dependent of Gilbert and her daughters to take care of her, since she’s obese. Amanda and Bonnie both have many similarities and differences between each other.

The theme of escapism exists in both of these stories and they greatly impact the overall storyline and the protagonist. In The Glass Menagerie, “I’m like my father. The bastard son of a bastard! Did you notice how he’s grinning in his picture in there? And he’s been absent going on sixteen years!” (97) Tom is exactly like his father because he abandoned his family to have his own adventure. Tom hates his life and he often goes to the movies or the fire-escape, showing that he wants to escape.

In What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Gilbert beat up his brother, Arnie, because he refused to take a bath, after that he left the house and drove off. Gilbert had enough of Arnie and his responsibility of taking care of him, he just wanted to escape and spend more time with Becky. Gilbert doesn’t completely hate his family, it’s true that he wants to escape, but he also had to take care of his family. The form of escapism in both these stories are similar to each other and if affects with the protagonist’s feelings towards their family.

The interactions between the protagonist and their family from both stories include helping one another out and having internal arguments/conversations that progress the story forward and additional character development. In The Glass Menagerie, Amanda complains about Tom going to the movies a lot and asks Tom to get a gentleman caller for Laura.

Even though they get into arguments, Tom still has the responsibility of taking care of his family and only accepted inviting over a gentleman caller for Laura to save himself. Amanda worries about Laura because of her extremely shy personality and has a fear of Tom being like his father, abandoning the family. In What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Gilbert works at Lamson’s Grocery, a small grocery store that rivals Foodland, to support his family and everyone in the family was responsible for taking part over something for Arnie’s birthday party in order to make it successful. The Grape family puts Arnie’s birthday as their top priority into making it successful, this shows that they care about him a whole lot.

The burden of taking care of Arnie puts Gilbert in a lot of pressure and would cause him to make regrettable decisions. The Wingfield and Grape family had many conflicts residing one another that would overall effect the storyline and the character’s emotions, but they do care about each other and help their individual conflicts.

In The Glass Menagerie and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, the characters show similar and different unique qualities that contributes and drives the plot towards the conclusion. The major theme of both these stories is the existence of escapism, as both the protagonist have the responsibility of taking care of their family and wanting to escape and be free of their burden.

Both of the families care about each other, solve their conflicts, and wants the best future for them. I personally agree with the matter of subjects that were discussed about the comparisons and the contrast between these two stories and the thought of various factors given.

“The Glass Menagerie” Movie Review

Anthony Harvey’s “The Glass Menageri”e was definitely a movie to remember. A movie to remember to never watch again. In the entire duration of this film I can only say I experienced two things; boredom and well, sheer boredom. The Glass Menagerie, was originally written by Tennessee Williams in 1945 and it was the first of the playwright’s many Broadway successes. Williams is also responsible for classics such as A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

This remake of The Glass Menagerie, did not do Williams any justice. The Glass Menagerie is a “memory play” and it was the first of its’ kind. To achieve this type of play, Tennessee Williams included many, precise stage directions in his script. The stage directions-lighting, music, pictures on a screen-were important factors in setting the play apart and making it the success that it was. In the 1973 movie remake however, a lot of these stage directions were ignored, such as the pictures on a screen, the lighting and the focus on characters.

This stripped the play of its individuality, leaving it plain and very lacking. Katherine Hepburn makes her T.V. Debut in this movie by playing Amanda Wingfield, the caring yet unrealistic mother of Tom(Sam Waterson) and Laura(Joanna Miles). Compared to the original script of this play, the dialogue was basically word for word. Though the correct words were delivered, I couldn’t help but wish they were delivered by other people. Amanda(Katherine Hepburn) spoke with such a strange and unintelligible accent that I probably only understood her for about a quarter of the movie and Laura basically whispered everything, so forget about understanding what she said.

The only person I could really understand was Tom, and after an hour of painfully watching this movie, not only was I sympathetic of his poor soul, but I was fully supporting his decision of abandoning his family. I don’t think that was supposed to happen. Some plays were never meant for the T.V screen, let’s make this one of them. You and your money deserve better. So do yourself a favour and watch the play, where the props are all used ,the characters are intelligible and the emotions are well placed. Now,I can’t say that this movie was all bad, it was precise in dialogue and not much was altered from the story, altogether it was arranged well. However, you’re going to need more than accurate duologue to keep someone awake.

Amanda Wingfield in “The Glass Menagerie”

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 Amanda get into a major argument. From this scene we can reveal that Amanda’s obviously an overstressed and psychotic single care taker with insufficient mothering skills.

Amanda’s stubbornness and complexities always irritates her son Tom (the narrator of the play).

Although Amanda is hysterically stuck in her past, she is a woman of great liveliness. Amanda’s past experience with her husband has made her bitter, and that bitterness is what motivates her to make her children become something. Her foolishness, stubbornness and selfishness makes her cruel to her children without the intention. Amanda, Tom, and Laura all fantasize and have their own individual ways of escaping from their realities.

In this case, Amanda escapes reality by fantasizing about the gentleman callers she had in the past, however she denies the fact. She doesn’t tolerate her children’s fantasizing, which makes her blindly hypocritical.

Amanda loves her Children dearly and she wants them to be happy and have good fortune. Tennessee Williams illustrates Amanda’s attitude in scene IV, while she’s talking to Tom after he apologizes to her. She takes the blame so she can pamper him into finding Laura a gentleman caller. This makes Amanda seem very selfish because she uses Tom for her own desires. Amanda, expects Laura to fulfill the dreams Amanda once had for herself which rushes Laura into doing things she’s not prepared to do. Amanda has hope in her crippled, (that she refuses to admit) and shy daughter whom isn’t capable of fulfilling Amanda’s dream.

Amanda goes on to pasteurizing Tom about finding someone for Laura, yet small things like this irritate Tom and make him want to leave and never come back. This small scene gives the reader an image of Amanda and how she contributes to the play. Her attitude and her values shape the other characters as well. In retrospect it is understood that one of the main reasons Tom left in the end of the play was because of his mothers selfishness, her constant nagging, and the many desires Amanda had for her children that Tom didn’t want to put up with.

Biff Loman and Tom Wingfield Analysis

Growing up is a major part of human life. For males, a strong father figure is imperative during childhood and adolescence. This is needed for the child to develop their father’s characteristics by learning from them and following in their father’s footsteps. However, two characters, lack a strong father figure and it affects them negatively. These two characters are Biff Loman, from Death of a Salesman and Tom Wingfield, from The Glass Menagerie. Both are affected differently by the deficiency of a father whom has favorable traits that would be salutary to both characters development.

Instead they form the same unfavorable characteristics as their father. These traits cause them to begin to live in a fantasy world that their fathers also had lived in. For both characters, the lack of a strong father figure leads them to develop detrimental personality traits that ultimately distance them from their families and the ones that they love.

In Death of a Salesman, the main character, Willy Loman is consumed by his false pretenses of what a real man should be.

These illusions include how he believes that a real man is measured by how big his bank account is and how popular he is. Willy feeds these falsities into the mind of his eldest son, Biff, who believes them to be true since he looks up to his father so much. Biff would do anything to appease his father, but his whole world comes crumbling down when he realizes that his father has been unfaithful and has cheated on his wife. At this time Biff realizes that he has been living a fantasy due to all the hot air that his father has been feeding him, but it is too late and the damage has already been done.

Biff has developed all of the same unwanted traits that his father had. Biff cannot work for anyone as he feels it makes him unsuccessful as his father had been. Also the confinement that his father has caused him leads him to want to escape from it all and he deserts his family to go out West. During the play he comes back but he meeting his father brings back up Biff’s upbringing and he realizes that he needs to escape from all the bad pretenses that Willy has feed him. In the sense Biff did not physically lack a father, but the fact that Willy’s characteristics were so detrimental to Biff show that Biff did in fact lack a characteristically sound father.

In The Glass Menagerie, Tom Wingfield experiences a similar predicament as Biff. In the play, Tom and his family are deserted by Tom’s father when Tom was young. This lack of a father shows to be nothing but detrimental to Tom’s development as a man. Tom begins to feel trapped in by his handicapped sister and over-bearing mother. He then realizes why his father left, to escape the unwanted pressure that the family has caused. Tom then begins to develop these same characteristics as his father. He wants to live his life like the ones that he sees in movies but he realizes that, like his father he needs to first escape from his current life, so he deserts his family in search for a better life for himself. Unlike his father though, he stayed as long as he could to try to put them in a better position and then he was going to leave. Even still, the characteristics he developed due to the lack of a father caused him to desert his family.

Biff and Tom both lack a strong father figure in their lives. As a result they know nothing better and they are forced to develop the same unfavorable traits as their fathers. The results for both characters are different as both fathers have unique faults, but the main result is the same. This ultimate result is that both characters fall quickly from their fantasy world that have been instilled onto them by their fathers and they come to face the harshness that is reality. They cannot face this and they have to escape from it and desert their family.

Glass Menagerie, Tennessee WilliamsDeath of a Salesman,Arthur Miller

Themes In a Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

One dreams, through the use of imagination, of what will become of them as life progresses. In some cases that person lives passionately with desires of self fulfillment, eventually reaching their goals in an ever so content way. At other times one remains lost, underappreciated, and ultimately carries with them a perilous, loathing attitude. Willy Loman drives his life to the point of no return where images of his past become his contorted reality. Amanda Wingfield slips on the white dress of her adolescence and is suddenly thrown back in time, living as if she were the young girl she once was at Blue Mountain.

Death of the Salesman by Arthur Miller was published in 1949, only four years preceding Tennessee Williams play of The Glass Menagerie. Interestingly enough, both plays begin with a glimpse of tragedy and end with self inflicted remorse. Although Death of the Salesman and The Glass Menagerie appear coincidently similar at first glance. Upon a closer examination, it becomes evident that the similarities stretch beyond just the time of publication, but into analogous themes as well.

In particular, both plays battle with the distinction between illusion and reality, the incapability of living in the present, and the desire for escape.

One uses their thoughts in times of vulnerability to manoeuvre through situations. This may result in even the revertion to the influence of narcotics to numb oneselves from what is truly taking place. In both plays it is perceived that the characters have trouble with distinguishing what is a figment of their imagination and what is reality. Amanda and Willy both deny their childrens underachievement and faults and believe that the fate of their children lies within their hands. Thus, they imagine their children as being something they are not, in an attempt to hide their childrens failures. Such illusions allow Amanda and Willy to feel successful in forming Laura and Biffs lives. Amanda denies Laura as a cripple and corrects anyone who believes her to be so, throughout the play. Willy influenced Biffs belief that he had been a salesman for Bill Oliver. Biff begins to question this after the meeting that never occurred. How the hell did I ever get the idea that I was a salesman there? I even believed myself that I was a salesman for him! And then he gave me one look and- I realised what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been! I was a shipping clerk (Miller 104). In an effort to guide their childrens lives, both Amanda and Willy believe they know what is best for their children.

Amanda imagines that Laura couldnt be satisfied with just sitting at home (Williams, 85). Yet Laura wanted to stay at home, evident as she creates excuses for doing so and would rather play with the glass menagerie. Willy, like Amanda imagines he is doing the right thing as well. When Biff was in high school, Willy felt Biff need not study even though Bernard advised them that he heard Mr. Birnbaum say- (Miller 33). Willy thought to himself that with scholarships to three universities theyre going to flunk him?dont be a pest Bernard(Miller 33)! Willys thought on this situation was delusional and unrealistic.

The characters are further illusive in what their position is in society as they climb the corporate ladder and follow the American dream. In The Glass Menagerie, Tom believes that Jim wont fall short of the white house. In reality, a factory worker such as Jim, becoming the next Roosevelt is preposterous. Biffs younger brother Happy presumed he was making something of him self and following the American dream of success and money. Happy believed him self to be an assistant buyer. Yet Biff makes his illusions fade and reality set in. You big blow, are you the assistant buyer? Youre one of the two assistants to the assistant buyer, arent you (Miller 131)? Furthermore through the use of illusion, the characters see themselves larger than reality.

Amanda always brags of her seventeen gentlemen callers (Williams 32) yet she was left by her husband. Willy believes himself to be popular and a well known salesman to the extent that when he arrives [he] never [has] to wait in line to see a buyer. Willy Loman is here! Thats all they have to know and [he goes] right through (Miller 33). Yet his sales do not justify this claim. I averaged a hundred and seventy dollars a week in commissions, Willy argued. Now, Willy, you never averaged- (Miller 82). The characters could not determine what was an illusion, and which, a reality. Often, other characters attempted to give hints of reality to the delusional others. These cues were constantly denied. Amanda was sure the gentlemen caller Tom had invited for dinner was going to fall in love, marry and save Laura all within a matter of a dinner. Tom tries to explain to his mother that Jim is not aware of Lauras existence and thus the chances of Jim saving his sister was slim.

Yet, Amanda brushes off Toms leeway into reality and continues to believe Jim is the one without ever having met him. As a result, Jim ends up engaged to a girl named Betty. Willy has the same attitude as Amanda, unaware of any hints coming in his direction. Near the end of the play, Willy insists [his] funeral will be massive! Theyll come from Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire!Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey- [he is] known. Yet Ben continuously warns Willy that he [has] got to be sure [hes] not making a fool of [himself] (Miller 127). Willy pays no attention to this frame of reality. In the end, no one shows up to Willys funeral, portrayed as Linda asks, why didnt anyone come? as it was simply Charley, Bernard, Biff, Happy and Linda (Miller 137) and Willy looks like a fool. Both plays depict the characters using illusions to better their realities.

In both plays, the characters become dependant and obsessed with memories of the past. As a result, both Miller and Williams characters have the incapability of living in the present time. The characters resort to the past to compensate for what they presently lack. Amanda always reminds Tom and Laura of the one Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain (Williams 32). Amanda constantly makes reference to her one special day as it is seen through many of her following actions. When Jim is due to arrive for dinner, Amanda wears the same white dress she wore as a young girl. She then entertains Jim as she would have entertained one of her gentlemen callers years ago. Amanda is kind, sweet and her face glows, proving reliving her past allows for her happiness. Willy acts in the same way as Amanda.

He relives the past by replaying it in his mind. Willy especially recognizes times where the relationship between him and his sons were at its peak. Willy enjoyed the time he spent with his sons the day they were washing his car. I been wondering why you polish the car so careful. Ha! Dont leave the hubcaps, boys. Happy, use newspaper on the windows, its the easiest thing. Thats it, thats it, good work (Miller 28). Willy makes reference to this past memory as it is a time that he is teaching his sons, as a true American father would, while also spending quality time. In the present, Willys sons no longer hold the same respect and eagerness to be like him, as they once had had for their father. Willy also remembers the time that Biff [wore] a sweater with a block S, [and carried] a football (Miller 28) as it was a time where Willys success as a father showed, raising his eldest son as a star football player. This memory compensates for Biffs present failure of unemployment. Willys memory is much like that of Jims. Jim spends time with Tom as he is the only one that can justify what use to be Jim.

Through Tom, Jim is able to relive his triumphant past as a star football player and a god to the other high school students. The characters also place the onus of the present, on past events. What occurred in the past is often used as an excuse for the poor outcome of the present time. The photograph of Mr. Wingfield dominates the living room space. It is a constant reminder of his abandonment sixteen years ago and of Amandas mistake much like Lindas stockings are a constant reminder to Willy of his mistake. Willy becomes angry at the site of Lindas stockings as [he] wont have [her] mending stockings in this house! Now throw them out (Miller 39) he would demand. Mr. Wingfields abandonment and Lindas stockings are reasons as that add toAmanda and Willys life difficulties. Willy also blames Biffs unemployment and loss of identity on if [Biff] hadnt flunked math (Miller 110) as he brings it up in conversation with Biff. Willy also believes that if he had gone to Alaska, he would have been doing much better than he was. in those days I had a yearning to go to Alaska (Miller 80).

In Willys mind, he should have lived a life like his brother Ben, who walked into a jungle, and comes out, the age of twenty-one, and hes rich (Miller 41)! Since Willy did not go to Alaska, he blames his misfortune and poverty on things that he should have done. Willy also blames small things that often represent the big picture of his life. Such minor details include, I told you we shouldve bought a well-advertised machine. Charley bought a general electric and its twenty years old and its still good(Miller 73).

In both plays the past has an even larger impact as past actions come back to haunt the characters. The pasts influence is so strong that it affects the characters abilities to function in their present time. Willy often hears the mocking voice of a woman[s] [laugh] offstage (Miller 118). He then replays Biff knocking on the hotel room door, his entrance and what he witnessed. At this point Willy puts blames himself for ruining everything. This makes Willy lose his sanity as he questions whether he is at fault for Biffs failure. Tom, much like Willy, becomes haunted by his past up on leaving the Wingfield house. Tom explains that he can not stop thinking about his sister, Laura. These thoughts stop Tom from being able to live as he is in constant repentance.

When living through pain, detriment, and agony there is no reason for one to remain. In both plays it is evident that the characters yearn to escape from their unbearable lives. They elude their realities through various routes. In The Glass Menagerie, Toms only immediate escape is the fire escape, where he goes to have time away from his psychotic mother. Yet Toms true escape is the movies where he visits every night. At the movies, Tom is able to identify with the heroes of the film. The film plot is Toms only source of adventure from his boring home life. The characters also use the power of their minds to leave. Willys immediate escape is that he- talks to himself (Miller 21). Willy talks to himself to leave his life and create his own atmosphere in which he is more comfortable. Willys favourite atmosphere is one that involves Ben. Willy often holds conversations with Ben in hopes of useful advice from his brother. Although Willy believes Ben to exist, no one else can actually see him.

Late one night, when Willy and Charley are playing cards, Willy says, Im getting awfully tired, Ben as a stunned Charley asks, did you just call me Ben (Miller 44). Willy was speaking to Ben as if Charley was not even there. Yet Charley, who can not see the fragment of Willys imagination, questions if he has misheard. Lauras escape is just as easily accessible as Willys imagination. Laura escapes into the lives of her glass menagerie through her mind, like Willy, in which she keeps on display in the living room.

Laura, like the beauty and fragility of the glass, must be protected from the harshness of reality. She sees herself as the unicorn glass figurine. She escapes by allowing it to symbolise what she stands for, different and freakish in comparison to the other horses. Biffs escape is further from the mind. For Biff, his route is out West where he is happier than ever. There theyve got about fifteen new colts. Theres nothing more inspiring or- beautiful that the sight of a mare and a new colt (Miller 22). Biff depicts the West as something inspiring that influences him as a person. Out west is where Biff is comfortable and relaxed, as all the characters are in their places of escape.

Williams and Miller both wrote plays that run parallel to one another. Death of the Salesman and The Glass Menagerie appear coincidently similar at first glance, upon a closer examination, it becomes evident that the plays have analogous themes. In particular, both plays battle with the distinction between illusion and reality, the incapability of living in the present, and the desire for escape. Willy and Amanda both battle for control over not only their own lives, but the outcome of the lives of their children. Tom and Biff wander around aimlessly, looking for who they are and what they stand for. Laura and Happy see themselves as something that others do not. In both plays, the characters are able to control what is the most significant of all their powers and that is their imaginations.


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The Glass Menagerie

“Choose a play in which a central character behaves in an obsessive manner. Describe the nature of the character’s obsessive behaviour and discuss the influence this behaviour has on your understanding of the character in the play as a whole.

“The Glass Menagerie” is a play written by Tennessee Williams. The play is semi-autobiographical, told from the point of view of the writer. It is a memory play set in the home the Wingfield family. The play is about a young man, Tom, who lives with his mother, Amanda and his sister, Laura.

The play explores the various struggles of each individual during the great depression. The characters all have their flaws and motives which help us to understand them and sympathise or agree with them. All the characters in the play behave in some sort of obsessive manner; however, Amanda behaves most strongly this way.

Amanda Wingfield is one of the main characters and plays a great role in the readers understanding of the play as a whole. She behaves in a very obsessive manner throughout the play and this creates conflict between the other characters. In Scene one, we are introduced to Amanda’s obsessive and controlling behaviour. As Tom eats at the dinner table, Amanda continuously pesters him, telling him how to eat his food. “Don’t push with your fingers. If you have to push something, the thing to push with is the crust of bread…So chew your food and give your salivary glands a chance to function!” Amanda treats Tom like a child which frustrates him. He is very short tempered and easily irritated by Amanda’s over controlling and obsessive personality. She also obsesses over Toms bad habits, proclaiming that; “you smoke too much.” Amanda is constantly complaining about Tom and criticising him, this is due to her infatuation and constant desire for perfection in all aspects of her life. She is like this as she cares for them but does not realise that she is smothering her children.

In Scene three, Amanda has a heated argument with Tom. This is instigated by Amanda’s act of throwing out Toms books. She exclaims that she “took that horrible novel back to the library.” This angers Tom and he vents all his frustration on her controlling nature and the sense of entrapment as a consequence of this. Amanda is also very controlling over Toms actions as she gets suspicious of what he gets up to at night. This emphasises the lack of freedom that Tom feels due to her behaviour and it creates tension and arguments between them. Tom feels the need to escape but Amanda is obsessed with the fact duty and responsibility comes first. Amanda is worried about her children and feels that it is her responsibility to monitor their actions at all times, however she fails to realise the effect this has on them.

Amanda also obsesses over Laura in Scene three; “Laura began to play a more and more important part in Mother’s calculations. It became an obsession… the image of the gentleman caller haunted our small apartment.” She is preoccupied with finding Laura a gentleman caller as she feels that this would be best for the family. Laura, being disabled, puts financial strain upon the family. If Amanda was able to procure a gentleman caller for her, this would ensure a better quality of living for her and the family. Amanda constantly tells Laura to expect many gentlemen callers and decides to ignore her disability. She tells Laura to “stay fresh and pretty for gentleman callers.” Amanda’s insensitivity in this matter crushes Laura’s confidence.

In Scene six, on hearing the news of the arrival of the potential gentleman, Amanda “has worked like a Turk in preparation.” This implies her obsession with appearance and impressing Jim. She deceives people into making them think that they are a wealthy family – despite the fact they are not rich. She attempts to make a lasting impression on Jim in the hope that he may be their saviour from poverty. Amanda is doing this for the benefit of both herself and her family.

Whilst trying to secure a suitor for Laura, Amanda often reminisces about her own past. She is still living in the past and speaks of it often – so often that Tom and Laura can already foresee what is coming next.

“Tom: I know what’s coming.
Laura: Yes. But let her tell it… She loves to tell it.” She often talks of her “seventeen gentlemen callers.” Amanda is self obsessed and narcissistic, implying that she judges a woman’s worth by the amount of attention she receives – further causing Laura to feel insecure about herself. Amanda is vain and egotistical and obsesses over her appearance. In Scene two she is described as wearing “cheap or imitation velvety-looking cloth coats with imitation fur collar.” She cares very much for her appearance and she takes pride in it.

Her clothes show that she is still living in her own past yet now is only a faded southern bell. Amanda is used to attention and in Scene seven, she makes sure to dress attractively, despite the fact that it is supposed to be Laura’s night. Amanda “wears a girlish frock of yellowed voile with a blue silk sash… the legend of her youth is nearly revived.” The occasion of Jim the potential gentleman caller, reminds her of her own past, in which she had countless gentleman callers.

Not only does Amanda obsess over her own appearance but also the appearance of her children. Before Jim arrives, in Scene six; “Amanda produces two powder puffs which she wraps in handkerchiefs and stuffs in Laura’s bosom.” This highlights the recurring theme of appearance versus reality, which is evident in many of Amanda’s actions. She is so engrossed in her actions, she I willing to deceive people in order to get what she feels she needs. She obsesses over many things in Scene seven, for example, she insists that Laura open the door to Jim and Tom and is insensitive to Laura’s anxieties and insecurities. However Amanda is only doing this due to the fact that Jim acts as a beacon of hope for them all and she is eager for the evening to be a success.

In conclusion, Amanda is deeply flawed throughout in regards to her obsessive and over controlling manner. Due to her behaviour, she eventually drives Tom away. However, she only means well in her actions. She is critical of her children because she feels she knows what is best for them. Her obsessive nature influences the readers understanding of her character in the play as a whole. It helps the reader understand Amanda’s and her children’s struggles, hopes and fears.

Compare Blanche and Amanda

In today’s socioeconomic world, there is no room for slacking off or failure. People are seen as individuals who earn their social status and there is much pressure to succeed. In the plays, “The Glass Menagerie” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” both written by Tennessee Williams, there are two main characters who are not capable of living in the present and have a difficult time facing reality. Amanda Wingfield, the mother from “The Glass Menagerie” and Blanche Dubois, Stella’s sister in “A Streetcar Named Desire” have many similar characteristics and life styles that are discovers throughout each play.

In the article “Tennessee Williams and the Predicament of Women” written by Louise Blackwell both of these women are defined as “Women who have learned to be maladjusted through adjustment to abnormal family relationships and who strive to break through their bondage in order to find a mate”. Each woman played an important role, affecting everyone they came encounter with, starting with the earlier years when they women were “southern belles”.

In order for these two characters to deal with the complications in their lives they resort to living in their own fantasy worlds of deception and lies.

Amanda Wingfield is the mother of Tom and Laura, a middle-aged southern belle whose husband has abandoned her and their children several years earlier. Amanda spends her time reminiscing about the past and nagging her children. She is completely dependent on her son Tom for finical support and holds him fully responsible for her daughter Laura’s future. Amanda is obsessed with her past as she constantly reminds Tom and Laura of “One Sunday afternoon in the Blue Mountain__ your mother received__ seventeen!__gentlemen callers!”(1050). The reader cannot even be sure if this actually happened or if this is an over exaggerated story that she made up. However, it is clear that despite its possible falsity, Amanda has come to believe it. Amanda also refuses to acknowledge that her daughter Laura is cripples and refers to her handicap as “a little defect-hardly noticeable” (1056).

Only for brief moments does she ever admit that her daughter is crippled and then she resorts back into her world of denial and delusion. Amanda is constantly worrying about Laura’s future and pushing Tom to find a man for Laura. When Tom finally finds a caller for Laura, Amanda blows the meeting out of proportion and believes that this man will marry her daughter after their first meeting. The night when the young man comes to meet Laura, Amanda wears the same gown she wore on the day that she met her husband. This makes her realize that she chose the wrong man, a man who left her and her children to struggle through life while he went and chased his dreams. Amanda chooses to live in a fantasy world of dreamy recollections not accepting the present reality of her life.

Blanche Dubois the main character in the play “A Streetcar Named Desire” is a hypersensitive, neurasthenic, faded southern belle who moves from her home town after a rough patch, to live with her younger sister Stella and Stella’s husband Stanley. A main element in finding out who Blanche really is, is discovering the real reason for her move to New Orleans to live with her sister. After the death of her husband, every aspect of her life slowly started to fall apart and left her with a huge void to fill.

She admitted to this, at one point in the story, “that after the death of Allen (her husband) intimacies was the only thing that seemed to be able to fill her empty heart”. Blanche thought that having sexual relations with men would somehow fill the void in her heart. This type of behavior got Blanche into trouble in her hometown. While teaching high school English, Blanche had an affair with a seventeen-year-old student. This destroyed her career and ruined her reputation forcing her to relocate to New Orleans with Stella.

From the first moment Blanche steps into her sister’s home one can sense exactly what Blanche is, or at least what she chooses to be. In appearance, she is a glamorous, ladylike aristocrat, who is perhaps slightly nervous. She parades about the house as if she is a regal figure, wearing elegant gowns and delicate jewelry. However, this is merely a facade, Blanche is broke and homeless. Although Blanche was once a kind, normal, sweet girl, her very being has deteriorated. Now, all that’s left is what she struggles desperately to maintain on the outside. It is obvious, even as Blanche desperately attempts to imitate a respectable lady, that there is something terribly wrong with her. She even admits it while speaking with Stella, “I want to be near you, got to be with somebody, I can’t be alone! Because – as you must have noticed – I’m – not very well”.

Amanda and Blanche are similar in the ways they conduct themselves and how they rely on other people to fill voids in their lives. Both women escape reality by living in illusionary worlds and by reminiscing about the past. They rely heavily on men and are desperate to get one. Blanche and Amanda drive everyone crazy causing their own families to slowly drift away from them. While these characters stay the same, the rest of the world around them is continually changing. This explains the twos repeated failures in life. The major characters in these plays are so warped and their lives so distorted and perverted by fantasies that each is left with only broken fragments of what might have been. Their failure to recognize what is happening in their lives, explains how they are unstable people who cannot fend for themselves.

Tennessee Williams

Thomas Lanier, also known as Tennessee Williams, was an American writer who worked principally as a playwright in the American Theatre. Also he wrote essays, short stories, poetry, screenplays, and novels with also a volume of memoirs. Tennessee’s professional career lasted about 45 years until his death in 1983. Williams saw the birth of hundreds of plays that are considered to be classics on the American stage. Tennessee Williams was an important American playwright who tied in his personal life into his writings, and used women over men in his play, and comparing his work to the other authors.

Tennessee Williams used events that happened in his personal life to help him with his writings. He used this in his writings by having the characters getting hurt in the plays just like he did. For example in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Maggie becomes increasingly more self-conscious as she is again and again refused by her husband. “Williams’s objective was to create humane freedom out of the ashes of experience” (Skloot).

This is saying that Tennessee Williams is trying to create freedom for everybody through his works, because he does not want people to have to go through what he had to.

Another character that gets hurt to show how his life was is Blanche Dubois from A Streetcar Named Desire. She is so opposed of her past that she chooses to invent a history for herself with the intention of subverting reality. “That of climbing out of an abyss is appropriate in its description of his view of the human condition” (Skloot). Tennessee describes his own situation as a life of clawing and scratching along a sheer surface and holding on tight with raw fingers to every inch of rock higher than the one caught hold of before, but it was a good life because it was the sort of life for which the human organism is created. This is a perfect comparison between the life of Tennessee Williams and Blanche because of Blanche’s past and how she wanted to go back and change it.

Williams would tie in his writings about his family life and personal experiences into the works. His sister, Rose, illness may have contributed to his alcoholism and his dependence on various combinations of amphetamines and barbiturates. “Everything in his life is in his plays, and everything in his plays is in his life” (Loney). In the Glass Menagerie there is a resemblance between Tennessee and the main character, Tom. And he had a disabled sister name Laura and they had a controlling mother named Amanda. This is a mirror image of Tennessee Williams life.

William’s father was a heavy drinker and his loudly turbulent behavior caused them to move numerous times around the city. “Cornelius Williams was a man with a violent tempers, and was prone to use his fist” (Adler). Tennessee Williams used the play Glass Menagerie to show how his father was. The father in the play was very violent and was a drunk. He was mean to his children and his wife. This is also a mirror image of how Tennessee Williams tied used real life events to tie into his writings.

Williams loved to have the presence of women over men in his works. The presence of women over men in his works helped him make remarkable plays because he could relate to the women and their life. One of the ways he could relate to them was how women struggled to make relationships with men who are unable or unwilling to make lasting relationships. “In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Maggie and Brick presumably had a satisfactory sexual relationship early in their marriage. Problems began to develop, however, when Maggie decided that Brick’s close friendship with Skipper indicated homosexual tendencies” (Blackwell). this relates to Tennessee because he thought he had found the right partner for him and in the end problems would develop and it would end. This happened a lot in Tennessee Williams relationships. It started from the time he was with one of his first partners, Fred Melton, till the day he died. So Williams did this so he could relate to his personal life.

Another reason Tennessee Williams choose to have the presence of women over men in his works was because women who have known happiness, but who have lost their mates and who try to overcome the loss. “The Princess Kosmonopolis in Sweet Bird of Youth (1959) is an aging actress who has known happiness with a lover and popularity with audiences. After losing both, she failed in a come- back effort as actress and embarked upon a search for another lover who could return her to reality” (Blackwell). This happened to Tennessee Williams almost every time he ended a relationship with his partner. He would fail at a comeback for his lover, and it would fail, and then would go out and find another partner to be with.

Women were used more because of the unusual perception of women has let Williams display his talent. Women who have learned to be maladjusted through adjustment to abnormal family relationships which have strived to break through their bondage in order to find a mate. “Blanche DuBois of A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) was a dutiful child, remaining with her aged parents long beyond the marrying age for most women and later staying behind to try to save the family estate, while her sister, Stella, went out to find her place in the world. Since Blanche had adjusted to an abnormal family life, she was unable, when she had the opportunity, to relate to the so-called normal world of her sister” (Blackwell). Tennessee Williams was like this because he was so caught up in trying to pursue his career as a writer and would always end out of place and couldn’t find hid place in the world. This also happened when he would split from his partner because he was so into the person and would be lost when they would split.

The last reason why Tennessee Williams choose to use women in his works more than men was because women who have subordinated themselves to a domineering and often inferior person in an effort to attain reality and meaning through communication with another person. “In Period of Adjustment (1960), Dotty Bates will tolerate insult and abuse from her husband Ralph, so long as their sexual relationship is satisfying” (Blackwell). Tennessee Williams life as a young man was like this. His father was very abusive and insulting to him. But he would be happy if his sexual relationship was satisfying with his partner. Williams’s father abused him for most of his life, and he would talk about that in his writings because he could relate to how if felt and make the audience feel his pain.

Tennessee Williams was always listening to what the critics were saying and then would make sure to make his work better. “His writing had taken a new direction, that he had been developing a new kind of dramaturgy” (Loney). Even though the critics and audience failed to appreciate his new works and the style they were written. After all of this happened he fell into deep depression and had to be hospitalized. And when he was being hospitalized, that caused him to start becoming addicted to amphetamines. But this did not hurt his reputation for being the best American playwright.

When he listened to the critics, this placed him up on a pedestal for being a talented playwright, screenwriter, short story writer and a novelist. “A Streetcar Named Desire, in 1947, secured his reputation as a great playwright” (Loney). This wasn’t the only play he writes that put him to the top of the list for playwrights. Glass Menagerie and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof also helped him get there. Because of the way the critics reviewed him only helped Tennessee Williams produce better plays. If the critics didn’t do what they did, we might not have the Tennessee Williams that we know today.

Tennessee Williams was great at building friendships with other authors. They would help each other with their works. Adrienne Kennedy chose to be a playwright after seeing one of Tennessee Williams works, Glass Menagerie. “Kennedy’s fascination with Williams continued, especially with Streetcar” (Kolin). At the time her and Tennessee met, she had become fascinated with his work and ended up basing her work off his. Before they had a relationship with each other, she admits that she was intimidated of him and of his works. When they met, he told her she didn’t have any reason to ad he was there to help her on anything he needed.

Adrienne Kennedy eventually used is works as a guideline for her works and then tried to imitate his works. “She was very much in awe of Tennessee Williams at the time and so I imitated him” (Kolin). Before their friendship was started, she attended workshops at a local university on the reflection of Williams plays. She then met him at the Actors studio and their relationship boomed after they left from there. That is what has helped Adrienne Kennedy get to where she is today, by meeting Tennessee Williams.

One of the great American playwright, Tennessee Williams, has produced some of the best works we will ever see. Even though his professional career only lasted 45 years, his works are still being used all over the world. Tennessee Williams was an important American playwright who tied in his personal life into his writings, and used women over men in his plays, and he compared his works to the other authors and critics. Williams will always be one the greatest American playwright in history.

Difficulty Accepting Reality

When people aren’t living life the way they expect, they tend to find a way of coping with their issues. Every reality poses problems, some people find ways of hiding from their problems or in other words escaping from reality. Each of the unique main characters, Amanda, Laura, and Tom, in Tennessee Williams play, The Glass Menagerie, have a difficulty accepting reality and have several ways of escaping from the problems.

Laura is painfully shy which affects how she interacts with others in the real world.

She was enrolled in Business College and her mother hoped for her to one day get a good job and raise a family. Laura’s shyness kept her from doing well in school so she eventually dropped out. Also “a childhood illness left her crippled” so she wears a brace on one leg, which causes her to have even more insecurities about herself. To escape reality, Laura lives in her own little private world populated with glass animals.

They are her prized possessions. Her separation from reality increases until she believes she is as fragile as the animals in her glass collection. Tom, Laura’s brother, “a poet with a job in a warehouse”, hates his job. Even though Tom is capable of functioning in the real world he has no motivation in achieving a romantic relationship, engaging in friendships, or even getting a better job that pays more money. Instead he escapes reality by fantasizes about life through reading books and watching movies. He also deals with his problems by drinking.

Amanda, the mother of both Tom and Laura, has the most complicated relationship with reality in the play. Unlike her children, she really wants social and financial success. Her attachments to wanting these life values keep her from accepting the truth about her own life. Amanda cannot accept that she may be responsible for the flaws and sorrows of her children. The ways she escapes from reality may be even more pathetic than her children. Instead of living in this imaginative world like her kids, she doesn’t accept reality as it comes she goes out of her way to maneuver it, but gets nowhere.

Symbolism in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie

Tennessee Williams is one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century. His first successful play, The Glass Menagerie, embodies his grace and skill as an author and an interpretor of the human experience. This intense drama ventures into familial relationships, societal situations, and the nature of memory. The Glass Menagerie opened in the mid 1940s in Chicago, and instantly became a mainstay in modern short fiction and continues to influence playwrights and authors of all genres.

It is through symbolism that Williams reinforces theme, character development, and fate in The Glass Menagerie.

One of the first symbols encountered by the reader is the fire escape. The fire escape represents both a literal and symbolic way to leave the house. It also represents a major them in the story – the need to escape. Williams describes the Wingfield house and makes note of the fire escape. He explains “huge buildings are always burning with the slow and implacable fires of human desperation” (scene i).

Certainly this is true of the Wingfield family. Tom wishes to escape from his boring job and current lifestyle because “Man is by instinct a lover, a hunter, a fighter, and none of those instincts are given much play at the warehouse! ” (scene ii). He does succeed, occasionally, in finding comfort in movies, drinking, and magic shows. The fire escape represents his ultimate path to his freedom. His regular trips onto the fire escape to smoke foreshadows the permanent abandonment of his family.

In the final speech of the story, Tom states “I descended the steps of this fire escape for a last time and followed, from then on, in my father’s footsteps, attempting to find in motion what was lost in space” (scene vii). Laura wishes to escape too. However, she seeks refuge not in the real world but within the house and a reality all her own. The fire escape protects her from the outside world. She wishes to isolate herself from the world where her deformity is laughed at and her shy spirit is crushed.

Even when she ventures out on to the fire escape she slips representing another failed attempt at entering the real world (scene iv). The high school nick name, “blue roses” (scene ii), that Jim had for Laura is also symbolic. It is a symbol of the affection that Laura seeks and the cruelty that world offers her. Blue roses are both unusual and mysterious which reflects Laura’s personality. The nick name while seemingly affectionate was actually a play on the term “pleurosis” which Laura suffered from in her childhood.

Additional, the use of the name Rose pays homage to Williams’ sister who was afflicted by a mental disorder and was against her will subjected to a lobotomy which she never recovered from. The Glass Menagerie” is not only the title but also the central symbol within the story. Laura’s collection of glass animal figures mirrors several of her personality traits. Her mother references the glass menagerie when talking about Laura and comments “She lives in a world of her own—a world of—little glass ornaments” (scene v). Laura is delicate and needs to be handled carefully because “Glass breaks so easily.

No matter how careful you are” (scene vii). Just as glass is transparent and superficially uninteresting so is Laura. However, in the right light those tiny glass creatures refract light in a number of various and vibrant colors. This is similar to Laura who may appear shy and boring to strangers but becomes alluring and attractive when her false societal mask is peeled away and her inner spirit is exposed. Jim is almost instantly enamored with Laura and tries to comfort her by stating “You think of yourself as having the only problems, as being the only one who is disappointed.

But just look around you and you will see lots of people as disappointed as you are” (scene vii). The menagerie also represents the imagined world Laura lives in – full of color but based on unstable illusions. The most important and functional symbol within the short story is the glass unicorn. The unicorn is Laura’s favorite figurine. Jim states “A unicorn, huh? —aren’t they extinct in the modern world? ” (scene vii). Laura, like the unicorn, is ill equipped to exist in this world full cruel acts and evil people.

The fate of the unicorn, extinction, foreshadows what will Laura’s future will hold. It also becomes a symbol of the initiation and normalization of Laura into the real world. As Jim and Laura dance the unicorn is broken. Jim’s kiss destroys Laura’s uniqueness. She fades effortlessly from her heightened experience with Jim into a normal existence as he explains he must rush off for an appointment with his girlfriend. She gives the broken unicorn to Jim as a keepsake because the unicorn “is just like all the other horses”(scene vii) now.

This is symbolic of everything that Jim destroyed and took from Laura in that single evening. Symbolism is a literary device that Williams employs in almost all of his writing. Using common place items – the fire escape, glass figurines, roses – allows the theme, character development, and the denouement of the story to be easily accessible and understood by the audience. The glass menagerie is physical image and memory that all readers can take away from the story. Symbolic of a life lived in fantasy because it could not survive in the world’s cruel reality.