Kitt's Reviews > The Glass Menagerie

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
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Dec 04, 2011

really liked it
Read on December 04, 2011

With its miniscule cast and vague set, The Glass Menagerie doesn't seem like much at first. However, Tennessee Williams manages to transform this meager play into much more than just a story of a fragile girl and her first gentleman caller. With a little bit of background information, the purpose of the story is clear. Not only was Williams commenting on the themes apparent within the play, but he was also writing about his own youth in his own dysfunctional family in St. Louis.

The theme made apparent by Tom makes this clear. Tom, as a representative of Williams, finds true escape from the Wingfield home impossible, and, as a result, recollects the play as a memory of why he cannot find true escape. This ties in with what Williams probably felt upon leaving home, being in almost the exact same position as Tom. His family was also unable to accept realities. Amanada, symbolic of his mother, cannot accept her children or her circumstances for what they really are. She still clings to the days when heritage meant something and everything had to follow a certain etiquette even though that reality clashes with the one she exists in. Laura, on the other hand, exists in a world that is static and full of dangerous illusions - the world of her glass menagerie. The animals in this menagerie are full of fantasy and are appealing in every light that is thrown on them, but they are also dangerously fragile. Laura cannot accept that reality will not bend to her fragility, and even Tom cannot escape his own illusions which keep him complacent and inable to leave. These two themes of the dangers of rejecting reality and the absence of true escape are what define The Glass Menagerie.

The play is written as a memory of the narrator, Tom Wingfield, who is also a character within the memory. As a memory play, Williams makes it clear that certain things are distorted, just as they are within memories, to accent things held most important to the person remembering them. The perspective memory gives is distorted, but it also emphasizes those things which are most vital to understanding the importance of the memory.

While this distortion made it hard to understand, I loved the play. While the apparent fantasies of the characters made it a bit irritating to watch them continue to fail at living, it provides a valuable lesson to the audience about accepting the truth. I adore pieces that teach lessons in the end, and I also like the time period for which this was written. It was a play in an era which I enjoy that caused me to reflect on my own life, and those two things have put it in my favorites list.
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