Valerie J K's Reviews > The Glass Menagerie

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
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Mar 27, 11

Read in March, 2011

I read this play in high school and thought I'd give it another shot. It's a rather depressing play with only 4 characters. The Mother, Amanda, spends most of her time nagging her grown son and reliving memories of the 17 gentleman callers she had in her youth. She married a man who abandoned the family for travel. The daughter, Laura, has separated herself from human contact and spends her time focusing on her glass animal collection. Tom, the son, has been obligated to work in a warehouse, but dreams of travel, adventure, and escape from family obligations. When Tom invites his friend Jim home for dinner (at the insistance of his Mother), Amanda becomes even further detached from reality, reliving her past and matching this "Gentleman caller" with Laura. The evening is full of highs and lows, culminating in the shattering of Laura's favorite glass piece, which is obviously a metaphor for her fragile existance.

Far more interesting than the play is the author's essay, "The Catatstrophe of Success," in which he writes about the difficult time he had adjusting to what we consider success: "The sort of life I had had previous to this popular success was one that required endurance, a life of clawing and scratching along a sheer surface and holding 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. I was not aware of how much vital energy had gone into this struggle until the struggle was removed...This was security at last. I sat down and looked about me and was suddenly very depressed." This led him to realize that "not privation but luxury is the wolf at the door and that the fangs of this wolf are all the little vanities and conceits and laxities that Success is heir to..." He further writes, "You know, then, that the public Somebody you are when you "have a name" is a fiction created with mirrors and that the only somebody worth being is the solitary and unseen you that existed from your first breath and which is the sum of your actions and so is constantly in a state of becoming under your own violation..." --Tennessee Williams
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