The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

Tom abandoned his family in order to pursue his own future. The play is centered around the theme of family starting with the father of Laura and Tom abandoning the family when they were just children and finally Tom’s selfish abandonment of his family who is entirely dependent on him. In The Glass Menagerie, family means obligations. This play raises questions of duty and responsibility to your other family members, and for the most part in gender specific roles. We see that it is the job of the male to bring home money, and the daughter to look pretty and get married.

This also features the notion of abandonment, as a father leaves the family behind. There is also the notion of children taking after their parents; Tom leaves the family just as his father did, and Amanda wishes her daughter were as popular as she used to be. We see fighting between mother and son over both trivial matters, such as dinner etiquette, and larger issues, such as work and life goals. Lastly, this play examines the relationship between sister and brother, as Tom feels both protective and later regret with regards to his sister Laura.

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We can sense Tom’s feelings of being trapped, the fact that he is contained in only one location along with his family. The fire escape, of course, is crucial, being a means of escape and all. It‘s kind of hangs out there like a constant foreshadowing of Tom’s eventual escape. It’s also, fittingly, the place where narrator Tom does a good deal of his narrating. This makes sense – narrator Tom has already escaped, so he speaks to us from outside the apartment. The characters use the picture of the father on the living room wall in different ways.

Amanda uses it to remind Tom about what a rotten fink his father was, and how she doesn’t want him to turn out. Tom looks at it and wants desperately to be like him. The props used in the play are a means of escape. For Tom, it’s the movies and the fire escape, for Laura it’s the Victrola and her glass and for the father, it’s his picture. He’s escaped from the responsibility of raising and paying for their family. The fire escapes: Leading out of the Wingfields’ apartment is a fire escape with a landing.

The fire escape represents exactly what its name implies: an escape from the fires of frustration and dysfunction that rage in the Wingfield household. Laura slips on the fire escape in Scene Four, highlighting her inability to escape from her situation. Tom, on the other hand, frequently steps out onto the landing to smoke, anticipating his eventual getaway. The use of light plays an important role in the play. Since the play is not realistic, the atmosphere of memory must be kept so shaft of lights are focused on selected areas or actors in a particular scene.

It is use to give importance to the characters acting out as well as recognizing more their actions and movements. In the play, a very distinct light was focused on Laura. The kind of light used for saints, to show her fragility. “.. In front of them stands Laura with clenched hands and panicky expression. A clear pool of light on her figure throughout the scene. ” (‘The Glass Menagerie’, Stage directions, Act 3, page 28) Tennessee Williams’ use of the narrator (Tom) and his creation of a dream-like, illusory atmosphere helped to create a powerful representation of memory and family

In the opening lines of the play Tom indicates that the work is set in the 1930s, and that America is being willfully blind. This means they are looking away from the social troubles that are going on all around them, including the Wingfields’ neighborhood. They are quite explicitly not paying attention to the growing unrest that would be the Spanish Civil War and the rise of the Nazis. The neighborhood is pretending that these troubles don’t exist, much as the entire family pretends troubles don’t exist or aren’t what they are.

Therefore, the neighborhood is much like their lives: artificially beautiful, in a world that is quite harsh. Duty and Responsibility Woven into the coming of age theme is the issue of duty and responsibility. While Amanda insists that Tom’s primary duty is to her and Laura, Tom resents this responsibility because it presents him with so few options. On the other hand, Tom also has a responsibility to himself, one he might say he exercises precisely by attempting to abandon his family. By the end of the play, however, we see that Tom is both irresponsible and a failure in attaining his goals.

Yet, the responsibilities of a son are different from those of a father. Although Amanda, in some ways, wants Tom to be a surrogate husband—she holds him responsible for supporting the family although she does not permit him the authority of a head of a household—Tom’s action, while being objectively similar to his father’s, might not be identical morally His picture is featured prominently on the wall as a constant reminder of better times and days gone by. Amanda always makes disparaging remarks about her missing husband, yet lets his picture remain.

Tom always makes jokes about his dad, and how he “fell in love with long distances. ” This is his attempt to ease the pain of abandonment by turning it into something humorous. It is inevitable that the thing which Tom resents most in his father is exactly what Tom himself will carry out in the end… escape! Through his father, Tom has seen that escape is possible, and though he is hesitant to leave his sister and even his mother behind, he is being driven to it. Tom escapes reality in many different ways.

The first and most obvious the guilt of abandoning Laura is overwhelming. He cannot seem to get over it. Everything he sees is a reminder of her. Tom is now truly following in the footsteps of his father. Too late, he is realizing that leaving is not an escape at all, but a path of even more powerful desperation. is the fire escape that leads him away from his desolate home. Another would be the movies that Amanda is always nagging him about. She thinks he spends too much time watching movies and that he should work harder and find a suitable companion for Laura.

The more Amanda nags, the more Tom needs his movie escapes. They take him to another world for a while, where mothers and sisters and runaway fathers do not exist. As the strain gets worse, the movie watching becomes more frequent, as does Tom’s drinking. It is getting harder and harder for Tom to avoid real life. The time for a real departure is fast approaching. Amanda eventually pushes him over the edge, almost forcing him out, but not without laying overpowering guild trips on him. Tom leaves, but his going away is not the escape that he craved for so long.