Tennessee Williams’ Classic and Memory-Laden The Glass Menagerie
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams is base on the struggle of two young adults who lived with their trying but loveable mother, Tom and Laura. Tom and Laura were different in many ways but their mother Amanda did not allow their differences to stop her from longing for the best for them, “I’ll tell you what I wished for on the moon. Success and happiness for my precious children! I wish for that whenever there’s a moon, and when there isn’t a moon, I wish for it, too”. The Glass Menagerie has held status because many of the issues presented in the play are still among us today. In the Bahamas and worldwide, there are still single parents, gender role, and escapism. In the play The Glass Menagerie, Amanda is a single mother because Mr. Wingfield left her along with their two children Tom and Laura. Amanda is forced to raise her children on her own, which is not an easy task. The Bahamian society can relate to this in a major way. According to Tribune, “more than 65% of live births are to ‘single’ parents, meaning females. In 85% of the households in New Providence and Grand Bahamas are headed by ‘single’ females with multiple children and the putative fathers are nowhere in sight”. This has shown that children have to depend on their mother for everything since the father is not around or in their lives. There are not many differences between the Bahamian Society and The Glass Menagerie. In the Bahamas single female parents outnumbers single male parents. There are single female parents everywhere who has the same mindset as Amanda. Like Amanda, they all want what is best for their daughter(s) and son(s). They want their daughter to find someone who is not like their father and they want their daughter to be just as popular as they were in the earlier days or want their son to be better than their father.
Overall, they just want their children to be successful and not follow their father’s example, especially if the father left on a bad note. However, when it comes to the male child, single female parents seem to have a hard time raising them in the right way. In The Glass Menagerie, Tom and Amanda had a hard time getting along and Amanda struggled with Tom when it came to doing things her way. It came to a point in the play when Amanda got angry with Tom; she shouted, “What is the matter with you, you big-big- idiot!”; this argument was intense and continued back and forth between them. Today, parents and their child argue with each other and it is not healthy for their relationship. Like any household, the man is always the head of the family. In the Bahamian society, this tradition is still ongoing. The men are responsible for providing for the family and supporting the family financially. In The Glass Menagerie, Tom was the man of the house especially because Mr. Wingfield left them. Tom had a job at a warehouse that brought in money to keep the family living comfortably. However, Tom wanted to let all of that go but Amanda did not allow that to happen. She said to Tom “What right have you got to jeopardize your job? Jeopardize the security of us all? How do you think we’d manage if you were”. Amanda depended on Tom and if she loosed him, she will have nothing, “I’ve had to put up solitary battle all these years. But you’re my right-hand bower! Don’t fall, don’t fail”. Tom had a hard time living for himself and doing what he really wanted because Amanda made sure he did everything as the man of the house. This includes paying bills, “That light bill I gave you several days ago.The one I told you we got the notices about?”. Tom also had the responsibility to find his sister Laura a man, “Find one that’s clean-living doesn’t drink and ask him out for sister!”; his was Tom’s job as long as he was around. This was also a way for Amanda to prevent Tom from doing what he really wanted to do in life, “As soon as Laura has got somebody to take care of her, married, a home of her own, independent – why, then you’ll be fine to go wherever you please”. In today’s society, fathers are missing from the family so; the mother tries her best to raise the son in a way to help within the household. The role of the son/male is a tradition in families today and they usually get a job at an earlier age than the daughter/female. A mentality that men are in charge of the household will never change, especially when the father is absent.
In society, we all turn to activities or entertainments in order to forget about real life problems. This behavior is referred to escapism. In The Glass Menagerie, Amanda, Laura and Tom found ways to escape the discouraging reality. Amanda escaped by living in the past. She was obsessed with her Blue Mountain popularity and she bragged about her gentlemen callers. She claimed that they were “some of the most prominent young planters and sons of the planters”. Amanda’s past has kept her utterly out of touch with reality. Laura on the other hand, escapes the reality that she is cripple, shy and self-conscious and to escape, she turns to her father’s Victrola and her glass ornament collection, Glass Menagerie. Laura imagines a world just as beautiful as her Glass Menagerie and is separated from the challenges she is faced with. Finally, in order to escape the real problems at home, Tom writes poetry and spends most of his time at the movies, “I go to the movies because – I like adventures. Adventures are something I don’t have much of at work, so I go to the movies”. Tom found happiness at the movies and used it as an escape from Amanda and the plans she wants for him. However, Tom got fed up of the state he was in and escaped leaving his mother and sister behind. Generally, Escapism was a major part of this play and everyone had his or her own way of escaping reality. Today, people still find ways to escape reality problems. Some people escape through alcohol, drugs, entertainment, clubbing, movies and many other ways. We will always need a break from reality therefore; escapism is something that will be around forever. As seen throughout the comparison between the Glass Menagerie and the Bahamian society, not much has change. If anything, things are more advanced and serious from then to now. We are faced with this sort of difficulties and challenges on a daily basis and some things we cannot avoid because it is a part of life.
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