Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams Humankind's Destiny Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

Humankind's destiny has always been driven by fate and circumstances and in dealing with these two, people have ways of changing the outcome while others simply accept what comes their way. Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie is a play that portrays the manners by which the characters handle their situations in life. What they have are not the best of circumstances especially since the play was set during the height of the Great Depression in the 1930s where poverty and despondency were the norms for those living in the era. Thus, with the dismal and squalor surrounding the characters of the play, they each have their way of dealing with them by either not facing reality and living in the past, feeling imprisoned and having difficulty escaping reality, or simply turning one's back and walking away. These same situations or actions have been how the characters of the play dealt with their individual situations. In looking at the characters and how they have faced their "inner demons," Williams was able to portray society also in how each member thereto deals with life's fate and circumstances.

One can begin the analogy of characters and attitudes with Mrs. Amanda Winfield, the mother in the play who hailed from the South and has had the misfortune of being left by her husband some decades of so back. The loss suffered by Amanda Wingfield is both physical and psychological, and the result of which saw her retreating into a distant past that is as much myth as it is reality (Janardanan, 2007). Further, the departure of her husband left her poor and destitute that she had to find ways of rearing and supporting her two children, Tom and Laura, on her own. The sad part of this all is that instead of facing up to reality and fighting her misfortunes to make a better life for herself and her children, she is a "woman of confused vitality clinging frantically to another time and place (Williams, 1945)." Her reality is not in their present sorry state but in the illusions of her past as a young Southern belle being dotted on by admirers and having some of the wonderful things in life. These are the same things she wanted for her daughter Laura but unfortunately, her child did not inherit the joie de vivre that Amanda had when she was younger.

If Amanda's case is that of "not accepting reality" and constantly living in the past that do not contribute to improving her present and future situation, Laura, on the other hand, has a far more troubling way of dealing with her life. There may be an excuse for this character because of "a childhood illness that left her crippled, one leg slightly shorter than the other, and held in a brace (Williams, 1945)." Most of those who had a debilitating illness that is physically manifested would have felt the same way as what Laura felt, shy and fragile. But it is worst in Laura's situation because she did not have a firm grasp of reality. She simple lives in a world of her own content in playing her father's old phonograph records and spending time with her collection in a glass menagerie. Despite Amanda's prodding to get her daughter "out of her shell" and become the woman her mother wanted her to be, Laura seems to constantly clam up and prefers to live in the world she built for herself. Thus, she cannot face up…

Sources Used in Document:


Frederic, C. (2007). The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. Retrieved July 12, 2011 from

Janardanan, D. (2007, November 13). Images of loss in Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, Marsha Norman's 'night, Mother, and Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive. Retrieved July 12, 2011 from

Williams, Tennessee. (1945). The Glass Menagerie. Retrieved July 12, 2011 from

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