Glass Menagerie Tennessee Williams, His Mother and Essay

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Glass Menagerie

Tennessee Williams, His Mother and the Glass Menagerie

Tennessee Williams is among the most celebrated playwrights of the 20th century. His family portraits, set to the backdrop of a deteriorating Southern tradition, are a window into human foibles like vanity, insecurity, detachment and personal disappointment. All of these themes are in full display with Williams' breakthrough work, 1944's The Glass Menagerie. A peering insight into the unhappy lives of the Wingfields, the story is told from son Tom's point-of-view and concerns his relationship with his overbearing mother Amanda and his emotionally introverted and cripplingly shy sister Laura. However, the story is driven almost entirely by the will of Amanda, an aged Southern Belle abandoned by her husband and generally focusing her neuroses on her two adult children. This complex set of relationships is culled directly from Williams' real experiences as a child, with the characters of Amanda and Laura closely reflecting many of the defining characteristics of the writer's mother Edwina and his sister Rose.

Indeed, these relationships would go a long way to define Williams himself. Disliked by his father for a perceived effeminate quality and a sickly stature, Williams was doted upon by a frequently dramatic and protective mother prone to bouts with mental illness. His sister Rose, even more vulnerable to mental illness, would inspire Laura and a great many other characters and characterizations in his future work. The disquieting hostility between the three family members in The Glass Menagerie seems to capture a specific inflection point in the playwright's life. Here, according to O'Connor (1997), during Williams' college studies, a "transfer to the University of Iowa took him away from home in the fall, so he was absent when Rose's doctors convinced her parents that a prefrontal lobotomy was the only possibility for cure. Williams blamed his mother, who in turn claimed that her husband, Cornelius, made the final decision. Clearly, however, the family shared the burden for…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited:

O'Connor, J. (1997). Dramatizing Dementia: Madness in the Plays of Tennessee Williams. Bowling Green State University Press.

Williams, T. (2011). The Glass Menagerie: The Deluxe Edition. New Directions

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