Shannon's Reviews > The Glass Menagerie

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
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Mar 19, 09

Read in March, 2009

YOYA Code: 5Q 5P

A) Pre-Reading/Anticipatory Thoughts
Most teachers in the secondary English Language Arts classroom that I have observed do not teach plays. Rather, teachers tend to rely on the traditional novel and turn to Shakespeare when teaching a play. While I understand the benefits from reading a novel and teaching Shakespeare, I also notice the benefits from reading other genres from other authors. In fact, reading a play can be an easy way to bring the text to life and engage the students in the reading process. For this reason, I am going to read the play The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. I know it is a play about a dysfunctional family. I also am aware when this play was released (in New York, 1945) it received 25 curtain calls. I think it will be interesting to see how Williams incorporates and utilizes family dynamics throughout the play.

B) During Reading
This is hilarious. The mother, Amanda is a nagging control freak and completely over dramatic. Poor Tom. The first scene takes place at the dinner table. Laura, Amanda and Tom are eating dinner. Or at least Tom is trying to eat his dinner. However, he cannot eat in peace for his mother tells him to chew his food and give his “salivary glands a chance to function” (6). Because of this constant hovering over him and directing him of what and how he should eat he leaves to go smoke. His escape.
I found the beginning of the play interesting. It begins telling the reader that this is a play based on memory. This is something not normally done, at least back then. It’s like having an actor say there will be little scenery during my monologue. Then picking up a potted plant only to set in the front of the stage and continue on with his dialogue.


C) After Reading
I had to teach this play a week ago and it was my first time reading it. I thoroughly enjoyed. However, what made this play so special was when my students actually said they enjoyed reading it. WOW! Total shocker!! Since the feedback was positive without me even asking if they liked it or not, I will most definitely teach this if ever given the opportunity. With this said, if not able to teach this play I will venture out to find some play to teach them in the beginning of the semester. I believe teaching a play in the beginning will allow students to feel more comfortable with future readings and get them motivated. What makes it different from reading a novel? I would allow them to act out the parts while I narrator. They love this! It gets them involved and engaged in the material. It also makes my life easier to know I’m not lecturing to zombies in a desk.
The Glass Menagerie offers something to the students that sometimes other novels/plays cannot do. For instance, discussing the dynamics of a dysfunctional family, love, relationships, innocence, differences, the American Dream and responsibility. All of these elements are evident in the play. While these tend to be in some novels they are not displayed the same. For example, the ending is left open to interrupt Jim as a hero or villain. My students had a heated opinion about this topic and we actually had a great debate. Of course most of the boys thought he did Laura a favor, while the girls rolled their eyes when hearing this defense. It was amazing! Students can relate to the idea of “being a player” and that is what I played off of. Again, this is an awesome play to get the students involved in reading and class discussion.
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message 1: by Darren (new)

Darren Nice work on this review. I confess to hating this play when I read it in high school (and I was a reader), but come to think of it, we didn't do any dramatic reading/interpretation. Your decision to go in that direction and make clear the common dysfunction in the family no doubt helped in making it relevant for your students.


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