Glass Menagerie The Importance of Essay

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Amanda is a former southern belle, who enjoyed a very comfortable and somewhat decadent upbringing. After her husband leaves, and she struggles to raise and financially support her children alone, her social life suffers, making her frustrated and lonely just like her highly introverted daughter. This is perhaps why she is so focused upon finding a suitor (and eventually husband) for Laura. She does not want her daughter to suffer the same kind of social marginalization she has suffered as a single woman, in addition to the social marginalization Laura already suffers as a result of her personality and social disorders.

It seems fairly obvious that Amanda does not have many if any friends of her own and of her age group, particularly when Tom introduces her to Jim, and she immediately begins to, in almost hysterical fashion, give him her life story. In the 21st century American slang, young people would state that Amanda gives Jim "T.M.I.," which means "too much information." Jim is clearly there to meet and potentially court Laura, and while it is important to know some family history of a spouse's parents and family, her outbursts, explanations, and recollections seem strange, out of place, and even inappropriate. It is a moment when the characters and likely some members of the audience (including readers) are uncomfortable. Her loneliness and that she is stuck in the past directly impact her ability to notice and read social cues that would alert her that no one really wants to hear that much about her upbringing at that moment. Amanda lives in an imaginary world as well, the fanciful world of her past, where she was waited upon by endless servants and courted by numerous alluring suitors. Living in another world outside of the real world seems to be a family tradition in the Wingfield household, as does moderate to exceptional social problems that keep them from engaging with people in a real way and moving on to a happy or at least more fulfilling life.

The story states that Tom was literally a social outcast in high school, which is a memorable period for many people who follow a normative lifestyle. High school is often bittersweet for people when they reflect back upon it from adulthood, and Tom is no stranger to this feeling. He did not have friends; he was not popular; he did not get to develop and exercise social skills that would help him have friends and lovers as an adult. He is one of the characters that regularly engages with the outside world, with respect to his job at the warehouse and more significantly, all the movies he goes to see. This is how Tom escapes the real world and lives in a fantasy world. Tom has somewhat of a tenuous friendship with Jim, but they have a relationship more so of Jim's ability to socialize normally and see beyond people's shortcomings to see more deeply into their characters. It is implied that Tom leaves his family at the close of the play to move on, hopefully for the better where his life is filled more with real friends rather than fictitious characters from films that he feels closer to than people around him in real life.

"The Glass Menagerie" is dense with themes, motifs, and symbolism. This paper honed in on how the social problems of the characters directly interfere with their happiness. The characters are unique in some ways, but they are also united in their inabilities to function normatively with respect to socialization. All of their social issues are their fatal flaws, and their greatest challenges to overcome in order to occupy the real world and have real relationships with others.


Barnard, D. Brent. "The Symbolism of Tennessee Williams' the Glass Menagerie': An Inductive Approach." Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College. 2007. Print.

Price, Lindsay. "Analysis and Exercise -- Tennessee Williams." Theater Folk, Issue 44, Web, Available from: 2013 June 28.

Smith, Nicole. "Analysis and Plot Summary of "The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams." Article Myriad, Web, Available from: 2013 June 28.

Williams, Tennessee. "The Glass Menagerie." Provided. 1945. Print.[continue]

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