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Their interaction is quite different in that it is more positive than Laura's interaction with Amanda. Jim is a male and while that may factor into Laura's mirror image, it is not significant. In fact, it is safe to say that Laura would have interacted with anyone that opened up to her on this level. It is easy to factor gender into the equation especially because Jim is a prospective husband. However, the connection between Laura and Jim goes deeper than that. Suppose Jim had been a female neighbor living next to the Wingfields. Under basically the same circumstances - the two attending the same high school and the two being able to speak to one another openly - Laura would have grown just as fond of a female. The important aspect of this is that Laura needed someone with whom she could truly communicate. While she may have been oblivious to this fact, she was starved for this type pf interaction with another human being. The fact that Jim was a man is secondary to the fact.
As with the matter of Jim, Levy contends, "his love is reserved for his own self-image" (Levy). Levy argues that Jim is consistently using Laura's shortcoming to magnify his positive attributes. This is debatable only because Jim does more than adore himself. While Jim may be self-confident, he is not overly involved with self. We know this because Jim sincerely believes what he tells Laura. While he does gaze at himself in the mirror, it is a stretch to claim that he is concerned only with himself. He is the first person in who knows how many years that encourages Laura in a positive way. It is important to note that Laura responds to this in an affirmative way. Amanda is simply on a husband-hunt for Laura and Laura's development as an individual is secondary to that goal. With Jim, Laura finds positive reinforcement for all the right reasons. He identifies her problem as an "inferiority complex" (1751) and "lack of confidence" (1751). Jim is encouraging her to pursue something that she likes and be something. While Levy may call Jim narcissistic, it is more accurate to identify him as a motivational person. We could see him becoming his generation's Tony Robbins or Joel Osteen. Regardless, gender has very little, if anything at all, to do with this dynamic. Jim could very well be a positive and self-confident female.
Tom is the most complex of the characters. Levy asserts that he lives in fear that by relating to others he will become a "mere reflection, trapped in the mirror" (Levy) of their judgment. Tom is a man trying to succeed in the world. He has a rough time of it because he has his mother and his sister. It is specifically because he is a male that he is encountering so much difficulty and why he has no ambition. He lives under the pressures of society to be a man and provide for his family. He cannot bear his mother's outbursts about his selfishness, claiming that if she yells at him again, the "quicker" (Williams 1758) he will go. Tom wishes to have "tricks in his pocket" (1712) but we know better. Tom has big dreams and he feeds those dreams by attending movies, writing poetry, and reading novels. By this, we also know that Tom needs an escape from the daily grind of his life. He loves his sister but his mother annoys him to no end. Gender is everything in this dynamic. Tom feels the pull between responsibility and simply running away. If he were a woman, he would not have near the pressure to succeed and provide for his family. It is also worth noting that the mother/son dynamic is critical to Tom's character. Amanda, as a woman and his mother, places an incredible amount of pressure on Tom - an amount of pressure that, in the end, he cannot bear.
Levy, Eric. '"Through Soundproof Glass': The Prison of Self-Consciousness." GALE Resource Database. http://www.infotrac.galegroup.com.
Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Kennedy, Gioia, eds. New…[continue]
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