, Research Paper
What is a good mother? Many people would immediately think of the cheery, bright-eyed, always willing to help her kids type portrayed on television oh so often. If so, then what is a bad mother? Could it be someone like the wicked stepmother in Cinderella? It might be a somewhat less mean spirited person like Peggy Bundy, but then again, even she came through for her children occasionally. Overall, a good mother ought to possess qualities such as caring about what her children want or need, being there for her children when they need a shoulder to cry on but backing off when they want to be left alone, and most of all, she must not superimpose on her children and attempt to use them as tools for any reason. One should realize that children are human beings too, at all ages. Amanda Wingfield possessed none of these qualities. She had her own intentions for her children, and was determined to have her children live these out.
To be successful in raising a child, one must always take into consideration what the child itself wants. There is no use in trying to raise a child to be something that it has no intention of being. This is something of a common occurrence, and it is unfortunate how many young dreams are smashed by parents who want “only the best” for their children. Not every child is destined for fame and fortune. Many may simply wish to lead a happy, mundane life much like Laura. Amanda fails to realize that she is putting Laura through hell with her gentlemen callers and her nagging about the typing class that Laura did not want to attend in the first place. Amanda wants Laura to want what she herself wanted, and although parents raise their children and in that children inherit some of their parents’ tendencies, they will not grow up to be exactly as their parents were, no matter how hard a parent may try to make it so. Furthermore, Amanda never even attempts to understand Tom on any level. She simply expects him to conform with all of her wishes. By her logic, since she does not like the fact that he goes to movies, Tom should not go to see movies. If his life were clay for her hands to mold, she would have him home every night, or possibly out looking for “gentleman callers” for Laura to marry. She fails to realize that her children are people too, and in that aspect, she is a failure as a mother.
At times, it may be hard to distinguish when one is truly needed, and when it is appropriate to just leave somebody alone. A good mother ought to be able to realize this eventually and not to pick and persist with obviously annoying demands and questions. When a person is having a bad day, sometimes they would love to have someone to gripe to, but often they know in their hearts that the trouble will come to pass with time. It takes someone completely oblivious not to know when to ease up a little, but Amanda Wingfield does that often. For example, when Laura did not want to go to school anymore because the testing rattled her nerves and she was sick all over the place, (something that would be mortifying to a normal person, let alone someone who is extremely shy), Amanda had the nerve to sit there and complain how she should go back. One could argue that in her own mind, Amanda was simply being supportive, but in Laura’s eyes, it was nagging. Furthermore, after Amanda and Tom reconciled at the breakfast table the morning after he had exploded at her, all seemed to be in order. For once, Amanda was doing something right. However, she decided to persist with her “helpful” little tidbits of advice, and that ended up setting her several steps back in her amiable relationship with him. If she had known when to back off, chances are they would have become closer and closer and the tale may have had a much happier ending.
Few people enjoy the feeling of being a puppet, especially if the strings are attached to the hand of someone who never fails to fall on their nerves. Parents have a certain responsibility to raise their children right, but this task should not be confused with forcing one’s children to become a perfect facsimile of the parent. One aspect of human nature is being an individual, and that is directly correlated with acting for oneself. If someone stands up for what they believe in, that is completely different from imposing it on their children well after their children are old enough to decide and come to conclusions on their own. Amanda Wingfield fails at this aspect of parenting as well; in a vain attempt to relive her glory days as a young belle, she thrusts the memory of her former life upon Laura with hopes that she can somehow live vicariously through her. In actuality, the idea of living vicariously through one’s children, when pushed well beyond the limit, is a pipe dream. Amanda does not realize that she and Laura are two very different people, and that they are living in a different day. “Gentleman callers” no longer flock to the homes of young ladies, especially not ones with the obvious problems with which Laura had to deal. After all, she was an extremely shy, introverted person with an inferiority complex, and the way Amanda went about doing things only fed the fire. Also, her leverage on controlling Tom was her constantly reminding him that he was like his father and how awful it would be for things to turn out that way, but because of her dazed and oblivious nature, that is exactly what ended up happening anyhow. Had she been a good mother, there would not be a chance of Tom’s leaving, because she would have realized that what happened was not really his fault in the first place, and that it did not hurt Laura too much anyhow.
Perhaps, in an obscure sort of way, Amanda meant well with all of the troubles she put her children through, but someone would have to have been very unaware, or just very uncaring toward the feelings of others to have done what she did. As it has so often been said before “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” She may have thought she was doing them a favor by acting the way she did, but after twenty or more years of doing so, and still no real successes as a mother, one would think she would come to the conclusion that maybe she was not doing things properly, and that maybe she should apologize and attempt to be better from then on in. She did not. Instead, she drove Tom away, leaving an empty gap in her own life, and that of Laura. A good mother would not have made her son run out of her life like that. She did not give him a chance from the start . . . she was determined to have things her way or the highway, and in the end, Tom took the highway out of there.
While Amanda was not a mean spirited individual, she failed at all the tasks set out for a mother to face. She did not raise a functional family, she let her son run out of her life, she forced her standards and former way of living on her daughter and worst of all, she manipulated her kids to live through them (or off of them as was the case with Tom). Supposing one read the play thoroughly, it is hard to believe that one could possibly think otherwise of Amanda. She is a self- serving, uncaring woman who needed a good bite of a reality sandwich, which sadly enough, she did not get until it was too late.