The Glass Menagerie Theme Essay, Research Paper
The mother’s expectations
“The Glass Menagerie,” a play by Tennessee Williams, gives us a quick picture into the lives of three completely different humans beings. The mother Amanda Wingfield, is a women who is completely in love with her two children. her love although sometimes comes across in a very mean and dominant manner “unwittingly cruel at times” (1898), but she is always present for her children. Laura, her oldest out of two children, is handicapped not only by her “defect” (1898), but by a big case of being shy. Amanda’s youngest Tom a poet and a adventurer, is forced into the role of being the man of the house. Tom does not like this role at all. William’s in this story shows us how this particular family with an overbearing mother that has particular goals for her children and it happens regardless of her efforts, the children do not grow up and be what she wishes. The children do end up either trapped inside themselves or forced out by the mothers high expectations.
Williams shows us how Amanda who’s love that can be overwhelming also has particular goals set for children. Her former husband had left her with a always present “larger than life photograph” (1900) of himself. He also left behind Laura and Tom for her to raise. he left so he could go and “skip the light fantastic” (1900). Amanda knows all of what is going on with her children. She watches her children very closely with every eye movement. There are many times
when it appears that she lives vicarious into her children’s lives, making their every move and decision hers too. In doing this all of her children’s accomplishments and failures become hers as well. Amanda is also very confused by the lack of “gentleman callers” (1902) that were significant in her life when she was young are not calling for her daughter. Then when Laura does not get any callers Amanda does not recognizes that at all. So instead Amanda imagines they are not calling because of some type of natural disaster, very wanting to admit that Laura will never be as popular as she was growing up at “Blue mountain” (1903). When Amanda had to face Laura’s dropout from the business college, Amanda thinks “what is going to become of us” (1904). She is left with the feeling of “bewildered by life” (1904). Laura try’s to explain the reasons of her deception, but Amanda does not accept her reasons. Amanda instead of accepting what Laura said she instead attacks with full force the life of “dependency” (1906). Laura predicts the gloomy life of a future as a “tolerated spinster” (1906) or “little birdlike without a nest” (19060. Realizing Laura’s dislike for work , Amanda thens thinks she should find Laura a husband, and asks Tom to help with this. Amanda’s weird relationship with Tom is difficult at best. Amanda expects so much more out of him then she every would out of Laura. She does not get why his “going to the movies” (1910), and only sees the going to the movies as a way to hurt his job. When she senses his discrepancy, she praises him , making him feel more wanted and by calling him a “right hand blower” (1913). Amanda preys on Tom’s great love of his sister and convinces Tom to help her find a match for Laura. Amanda will have what is best for children at any cost to herself or to the children themselves.
Due mostly to Amanda’s overwhelming love and high goals for her Laura, Williams shows how Laura lives trapped. The result of an illness Laura is left with a defect for the rest of her life. This is also a symbol of her crippling shyness. Her defect makes Laura physically
crippled and so does her shy personality and this makes Laura also a social cripple. When in the scary spotlight of the public eye, she then suffers from severe nervous indigestion. Laura is like one off the pieces in her glass collection; she is very delicate and also fragile, to only be placed on a shelf and only looked at not touched. The glassware and Laura are unable to withstand the bumps and busyness of the outside world. Laura is aware of her mother’s goals for her but makes them not important to her at all. What is important to Laura is the comfort and feelings of continually unity of her family. During the fights between her mother and brother the stage lights are positioned as “a clear pool light on her figure” (1908), showing that is the one totally suffering from this fight. Williams, as if to imply the hurt done by this argument, gives us examples of ; “a tinkle of shattering glass”, then “Laura cries out as if wounded” (1910). Laura tries to covience Tom to “make up with her, apologize, speak to her” (1912). Maybe in doing this the relationship between Amanda and Tom will help Laura reign the feeling that her family is going to get a-long. She desperately needs the peace in her family so she can live. Later in the play, Jim O’Conner, is brought into Laura’s life. He is a attraction to Laura that she has had for a long time. The outside influence of Jim creates a major change in her “world of little glass ornaments” (1922). Here again she is forced into the goals her mother has made for her. As a result of her mothers goals, Laura lies “huddled up on the sofa” (1932), alone like always. When this antagonist which is emotionally approaches Laura, she is scared with lots of fear. His “warmth overcomes her paralyzing shyness her paralyzing shyness” (1934), and she lets Jim
slowly into her small little world. Laura is easily impressed with his compliments and conversation. Her precious glass unicorn is broken but she accepts the damage as “maybe a blessing in disguise” 1942). This encounter with Jim is to Laura, the “climax of her secret life” (1934). Jim has know become a way for Laura to get away from her mother dominance. Throughout the whole play, Williams portrays for us how Tom feels the distress of his sister’s trapped life, and the overwhelming love and high expectations of his mother and is lowly being forced out of living with his family. Tom feels like he has to take care of his mother and sisters because of his father being gone. He is involuntarily torn between the duty of caring for his mother and sister and the desire to get out on an adventure. Tom lives his adventure every night by going to the movies. Williams explains to us that to “escape from a trap he has to act without pity” (1898), just as his father apparently did. He tries to stay and uphold the responsibility of the house made by his mothers high expectations. When finally confronted by Amanda he runs to the firescape or off to the movies. Finally, just as his father did, Tom chooses to leave and live the adventure he has watched so many times on the movie screen. Tom makes his choice to “follow” in his “father’s footsteps” (1947). the faithfulness that he has to Laura as put on by his mother, goes with him and ends up scaring him.
In closing, Williams has proven to us the reader that in the best efforts of Amanda she guides her children into the high expectations that she has planned out for them. They ultimately do the opposite. Laura has become a part of here glass collection. “too exquisitely fragile to move from the shelf” (1898). Brought on by the high expectations of her mother, Laura lives a life of shyness. This makes Amanda upset for her only wish is “success and happiness” for her “precious children” (1918). Tom just cannot avoid following in his fathers footsteps. Tom would
love to escape his role as the man of the home without hurting or taking away the love of Amanda or Laura. Amanda only does what she thinks is best but does not always do that.