Setting in The Glass Menagerie

An analysis of the dialogue as indicative of the setting in Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie.

This paper analyzes the dialogue of Tennessee Williams’ play “The Glass Menagerie” for clues about the setting, particularly the time and place. The paper shows how although he makes no concrete statement asserting its setting, Williams uses overt quotations within the dialogue to portray the play’s time and place, masterfully convincing the audience that the story is set in the 1930’s, in the Wingfield apartment in the lower middle class section of the city of St. Louis.
“Williams wrote in the Southern tradition. He romanticized the south and presented characters with grandly idealized notions of Southern people and the Southern way of life. Using personal history and myth, he sentimentally highlighted the tragedy of twentieth century life in the South. As a result, Williams is judged as a distinctly regional writer. Indeed, The Glass Menagerie is not a traditional drama built on a plot filled with action or outward conflict; instead, it gives a dramatic presentation of a “slice of life” in the Wingfield family.
“Williams calls for “dim” or “poetic” atmospheric lighting (21) throughout the drama, instead of merely during scenes that occur at twilight or dusk. He writes that such faint illumination is “in keeping with the atmosphere of memory” (9) in this memory play. However, it must also be remembered that the time from twilight to dusk–the time of dim or poetic lighting–was the Romantics’ favorite because, in its mixture of darkness and light, it is more infinite, more all-embracing, than any other part of the day. In addition, twilight-to-dusk suggested a mind that was half awake and half asleep and therefore in sentient retreat from the workaday world.”