The Glass Menagerie

An analysis of the play, “The Glass Menagerie” by American playwright, Tennessee Williams.

The paper discusses the play 1944 play “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams whose plot draws loosely on autobiographical material from the writer’s own life. The paper shows how the play describes the main character (Tom Wingfield)’s anguished struggle between the call of duty towards his mother (Amanda Wingfield) and sister (Laura Wingfield) and his desire to “live his own life.” Tom is also the “narrator” in the play who often moves in and out of the action. The paper discusses how, apart from the use of a narrator, “The Glass Menagerie” is notable for the use of music, screen projections and lighting effects that helped to create a dream-like effect that is appropriate for a “memory play.” This was unusual for the time and challenged the naturalistic convention of plays of the period.
“The play is divided into seven acts and opens in the run-down St. Louis apartment of the family sometime in 1937 with the narrator Tom reflecting on his past memory. By speaking directly to the audience through the narrator the playwright makes a deliberate departure from the naturalistic convention of plays at the time. The essential characteristics of all the characters in the play are established quickly at the beginning with the use of this technique. Amanda is a loving but nagging and meddlesome mother who annoys Tom by her demanding ways. She is also apt to live in the past and far removed from the present realities of her life as she often recalls the days when she was a young Southern belle and a single evening in her past when seventeen gentlemen suitors came calling on her.”