This expressed hopelessness for Laura through Tom's character is reinforced by Laura herself, as influenced by Amanda's and Tom's perception of her as a weak individual, physically and emotionally. Her mother lacked the courage and love to steadfastly guide and strengthen Laura's character, as Laura believed that, through her mother's perception of her, she is a woman who has lost all hopes of attaining a wonderful life of being a wife and mother, as mirrored in Amanda's worries that Laura will not be able to get married: "Mother's afraid I'm going to be an old maid." While Laura is central to both Tom's and Amanda's motivations and frustrations in life, she was depicted as not having a stronger voice in the play. Tom and Amanda acted as Laura's 'voices' that developed her character throughout the play. By clinging to the fact that she is a cripple and allowing herself to be 'drowned' in her mother's fears, Laura took away from herself the ability to change her life like Tom, further intensifying the level of dysfunction in their family.
Lastly, Amanda, although not a central character of the play, was actually a critical catalyst that prompted Tom to leave the family and for Laura to silently accept her plight as an 'old maid.' She pressured both Tom and Laura to lead 'normal, functional' lives despite the inherent dysfunction that she contributes to her family. In Laura, she only proved that she is a traditional mother who believed that her family has a rightful place in the society, albeit an unrealistic one and directly clashed with real life. This point is expressed by Amanda in Scene 2, where she admonishes her daughter for not living her life to the fullest, and being self-absorbed by her physical defect: "So what are we going to do the rest of our lives?... Amuse ourselves with the glass menagerie?... I know so well what becomes of unmarried women who aren't prepared to occupy a position..." (42). In this instance, Amanda puts pressure into Laura's already dwindling self-confidence, by her reminding her that she has yet to achieve what every woman aspires to be in their society -- becoming a mother and wife. Laura, crippled and hence, physically immobile, is also becoming socially immobile, who had lost opportunities in life because of her physical defect.
Williams, T. (1987). The Glass Menagerie. NY: Signet.