The glass menagerie
As much as we all try to meet our goals in life, our big dreams are always shattered by the events and people we live with and our surroundings. For instance Amanda a beautiful Southern Belle who was darling of her small town’s social scene is an abandoned wife and single mother now living in a small apartment in St. Louis. She is always dreaming of her disillusioned past and her daughters’ future and can’t let it go to the painful harsh realities of her present. Her demands are unbearable for Tom and makes life difficult for Laura.
The Characters Portrayal
Being unrealistic but a loving mother she’s also clever on realizing Toms’ unsettled mind in her presence, and sets Tom on unrealistic mission to find a replacement for himself in the form of a husband for Laura. She plans to disappear for good thus holding him hostage, threatening his future to secure her own but Tom is hardworking, caring and loving from what he does to feed his family members. He feels insecure and always troubled especially when he has to find a husband for Laura. He is undesirable.
Laura is shy and over dependant, though crippled from childhood. She is helpless and it’s her passivity that incurs guilt and repressed rain in Tom. She suffers from inferiority complex. The long awaited gentleman caller for Laura, Jim is an enthusiastic man, who is also outgoing though a little bit shy as Tom describes him as more connected to the real world than any of the characters, he is a symbol of hope that is to “expected something that we live for”
In this play everybody seems to be trying to escape something hidden only known to him or herself. From wishes to escape from his life, just as the magician escaped from the coffin. Tom is impressed by the magician’s ability to escape destroying the box, and he marvels that one can do such feat. Tom’s goal is to extricate himself from his life without damage to his family, Amanda his mother and Laura his sister.
Amanda and Laura make him always feel buried alive. His tragic flow comes in the end where through he escapes something that had been impossible and remains haunted by the memory of his mother Amanda mother and Laura her sister. “But the most wonder fullest trick of all was the coffin trick…. There is a trick that would come in handy for me-get me out of this 2 by 4 situation.”(Tennessee 47). Tom says this to Laura after coming back drunk from the movies and magic show, a nail that is always poking at his conscience. With his responsibilities as the breadwinner and caretaker of the family, it kept him from being real and experiencing himself. Though he’s after leaving him he never stops feeling responsible Laura suffering from inferiority complex and too shy is unable to handle her life situations. She is buried in the coffin with no possibility of escape. This is by the financial constraints and insecurity and lack of social opportunities.
It is her situation that puts Tom and Amanda into awkward situations, more so Tom. She has escaped from natural real life situations by her disadvantaged crippled ness. Though they are trying to make her find suitable suitor callers. The idea that Tom replacement can solve her problems in itself is an illustration, trying to escape from life constant. Jim, Tom’s friend a one entrance into real life and work escapes her when he says that he has a fiancée after romantically entertaining her. This action sends her back into a hermetic existence. Laura a blue rose is a misfit for the real world. Her situation makes her be unable to take initiatives in the normal world. No matter how beautiful or delicate she is, the world reflects here and ultimately will leave her unappreciated. By suffering from inferiority complex this in itself is a tragically flaw that makes. “You know what I judge to be the trouble with you? Inferiority complex! Know what that is? That’s what they call it when someone low-rates himself! I understand it because I had it, too. Although my case was not so aggravated as yours seems to be.” Jim tells this to Laura when they are alone together after the dinner (Tennessee 67).
Her unfitness in the society and escaped from the world. By breaking of glass animal brings pain. Jim a person who is described by Tom, as more connected to the world also finds himself trapped by trying to go back in their high school years. He is trapped in cycle of memory and yearns to recapture and become attached to those who remember him from that time. He rarely has the opportunity but it is only when he is invited by Tom and meets Laura, that the first time unicorn animal is broken which corresponds to the shattering of illusions in a rare moment and we see Laura dancing with Jim. It is this that haunts Jims memory more and he wishes to be with those who new him.
Amanda, Tom and Laura’s mother, having being abandoned by her childhood, which meant her husband has love for the family especially for her daughter, but feels the strain of having a daughter that she has to care for. She feels financially insecure and having experienced difficulties she feels it most actively for her daughter because of the outside world.
Amanda feels abandoned by her understanding of the world of men, and the world that they are supposed to care. It is because of this situation that makes Tom run away from the family responsibilities and by breaking of the animal glass. Amanda desperately seeking to save her daughter from the life situation has been affected by a crippled leg, she escapes from reality and makes his family always want to run from reality.
Her tragic flaw comes in when Tom leaves home and their entire dreams are shattered.
Tennessee, Williams. The Glass Menagerie. UK: Heinemann, 1996.