The Glass Menagerie Shows a very Strained and Complex Family Dynamic

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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The Glass Menagerie written by Tennessee Williams shows a very strained and complex family dynamic. The single mother Amanda has two children, a son Tom, and a daughter Laura. The mother is stern with her children, but she obviously cares for them and their future. She just wants her children to have the best life whether that is being a housewife or a husband who works and cares for his family. These jobs best suits the eye of the mother; she does not care that Toms dreams are to be a writer.

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Amanda wants Tom to stay home before he persuades his dreams at least until his sister is married off and out of the house. The daughter Laura is shy and conservative she does not want to follow in her mother’s footsteps by acquiring a gentleman caller. Tom is the father figure of the house this is because Mr. Wingfield abandoned his wife and children and vanished out of their lives. Each character handles their reality differently, and they all must escape somehow to balance life with one an another. The mother Amanda Wingfield dwells on her damaged past. She raises her children as if they were in the time of her youth. She believes a woman shall be married and live her life as a housewife and mother.

She assumes her daughter will not find a man to depend on, so she wants Laura to have an education and sends her to Rubicam’s business college, but she is settled with the fact that her daughter needs to find a gentleman caller. Amanda is living life in her daughter and son. She wants the best for them, but she has a considerable amount of concerns and this makes the audience think she is distressed about living her own life. She was a beautiful lady she had many gentleman callers and she compare herself to Laura as if she was the superior, “One Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain, your mother received seventeen! gentlemen callers! Why, sometimes there weren’t chairs enough to accommodate them all. We had to send the nigger over to bring in folding chairs from the parish house” (Williams). In reality, times have changed women are more dependable on their selves rather than men. She lives with the guilt that Mr. Wingfield abandoned the family, and she attacks herself as if it was her fault. Amanda uses her children lives to escape the reality of her own mistakes.

While reading the play you can sense Toms frustration, because he has to take care of his older sister and his mother. He cannot do what truly makes him happy. He has late night trips to the casino and opium dens this shows he is depressed with the way he is living his life, he has to find a way to escape. A young boy needs to mature before he has his family depending on him while so young, Toms father left sixteen years ago, and he has never had a man to idealize. This also shows why Tom wants to escape his unsatisfying life he was abandoned, and that’s never easy to cope with. His mother is constantly agonizing him. It seems he can never do things right in her eyes. Amanda is unquestionably ire with the way Tom acts she puts off the impression that he is disobedient, but others would say that he is just a young man in his twenties. Tom must have a certain deminer his life is fabricated he is neither disorderly or irresponsible, because he wishes to go out late at night and do what makes him feel content. Tom is constantly working and trying to provide for his family he has the only financial income and its quite heroic. The audience understands he is practically the father of his older sister and equip to his mother’s needs.

When Tom an Laura get into an argument he says” House, house! Who pays rent on it, who makes a slave of himself to” (Willaims); this is an example that he is certainly the financial holder of the house. Tom also wants to be writer and maybe that is why he watches movies in the den in his spare time, also it could be his escaping method. Laura the daughter of the family is very shy and demure. She doesn’t fit in the shoes of her mother. Laura dislikes her mother’s possession over her and Tom meeting her standards. Amanda sent her to college, and she ended up coming back telling her mother she was homesick, but she couldn’t really explain to her mother she did not fit in. Amanda is not understanding and has no empathy for her children when it comes to morals. Laura is sensitive and dwells on fact she doesn’t fit her mother’s image. She uses her glass animals to escape from reality. She has a limp when she walks, and she is self-conscious most of the time. Therefore, she does not think she is good enough for the gentlemen’s caller.

When it comes to Jim a gentlemen caller Laura starts showing off her charm and beauty. She has never felt this way about anyone before this man made her feel nothing less but perfect, he had a real appeal to him. Jim said anything and everything “You think I’m making this up because I’m invited to dinner and have to be nice. Oh, I could do that! I could put on an act for you, Laura, and say lots of things without being very sincere. But this time I am. I’m talking to you sincerely. I happened to notice you had this inferiority complex that keeps you from feeling comfortable with people. Somebody needs to build your confidence up and make you proud instead of shy and turning away and – blushing – Somebody -ought to – Ought to – kiss you, Laura!’ (Williams), then they succeed to kiss. Jim proceeds to sit and talk to Laura he tells her he would not be able to call her again, because he is getting married next week. Laura’s heart breaks just like her glass horse. She has a wall built up, so this incident didn’t affect her tremendously. This is an example why she has problems trusting men.

When a father abandoned his daughter, the situation brings trust issues for women she may never want to deal with a man again and Jim doesn’t help that matter. So, Laura carries on escaping reality playing with her glass horses comparing their broken pieces to the detail of her life. Jim O’ Conner even deals with escapism. Laura talks about the yearbook picture of Jim holding a silver cup he was more of a jock in high school now he works at an entry level job at a warehouse, but he is not satisfied of where he is at in life, he is working to do better. Jim is always about the future never the past he considers himself outstanding. He moves on from the past surpassing how Amanda dwells on it. Jim wants his future to be extraordinary, so he tries not to bring up the past too often.

Overly confident he wants to pursue on making his life better; he tells Laura “My interest happens to lie in electro-dynamics. I’m taking a course in radio engineering at night school, Laura, on top of a responsible job at the warehouse. I’m taking that course and studying public speaking” (Williams). He avails his dreams as an escape he wants that to be his reality. Also, he uses Laura as an escape, whether that means he realize he is making a mistake marrying his wife, or he had to get his mind off the reality that he is not content with where he is at in life. In closure, times have changed, currently family’s morals are not so simple minded. Each one of these characters have an escapism of reality whether that is living a fantasy in your children’s youth, abusing your hobbies, or living in your dreams. This family’s story is very complex and relatable not just for the people who grew up in this age, but the present era. People still want to escape the concepts of their own reality. The play shows the audience how uncomfortable society is in their own skin.

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The Glass Menagerie Shows a Very Strained and Complex Family Dynamic. (2021, Mar 24). Retrieved from