Parents sometimes expect their children to realize the dreams they never did or to live as they did. They will sometimes impose strict responsibilities on their children expecting them to meet their own expectations. This can burden the children to such extent that they forget who they are as they take on other qualities so that they can meet the set expectations. Sometimes the parents’ decisions can cause their children more pain despite the fact that it was not their original objective. Parents do not always know what is best for their children. They should instead let the children find their own paths in life, make mistakes, learn from them and do things at their own pace.
The movie, “The Glass Menagerie” is a memory play based on four characters. Tom is the narrator and the protagonist of the movie. Other characters in the play are Amanda-who is his mother and the antagonist in the movie, Laura-his shy sister and Jim- his friend and Gentleman Caller. Tom loves his family and he works at the warehouse to provide for them. He however feels trapped and he longs to escape from his home and fulfill his dreams (). Amanda is a single mother and has expectations for her children. She is seen as the antagonist of the play because she opposes Tom’s actions and does not support his dreams. Laura is a flat character. She is shy and does not seem to know what she wants with her life.
Amanda lives in a world of disillusion and dreams. She is the antagonist in the movie because she prevents the antagonist from achieving his goals and dreams (Bowden 59). Her frustrations in life stem from the fact that her husband abandoned her and she was left alone to take care of the children. To escape, this she constantly remembers her past as a southern belle. Amanda does not accept reality and does not seem to understand her life. She tells her children exaggerated stories such as how she had seventeen suitors at one time. Unfortunately, she expects Laura to live the same way she did and does not expect her condition. She does not question, and does not seem to mind, her daughters love for inanimate animals. She expects her children to do as she wants and she does not care about their dreams and desires. She is seen as selfish because she expects him to meet her demands and provide for the family. She constantly argues with her son and presses him to work at the warehouse and she has not taken the time to learn about his inspirations in life. She is an escapist because she blames Tom when Jim, the first Gentleman Caller for Laura, reveals that he is in a strong relationship and that he is already engaged. Amanda is a hot-tempered woman and he tells Tom harsh and unbearable things when Jim leaves which eventually forces him to leave home. Amanda is a determined woman who goes to great lengths when she wants something (NewWorldGiftGallery).
Tom is the protagonist in the movie and he is faced with a dilemma of whether or not he should leave home (Bloom 21). He has been placed with the burden of providing for his family since his mother does not have a job and his father deserted them. Tom lacks the courage to face his mother and for a long time he has been forced to work at a place he hates. Tom loves adventure but he does not have the drive to pursue his ambitions (Brinkman). He loves poetry but he chooses to work at a shoe warehouse for a meager salary. His love for his family is also his burden. Even after he leaves home, he is still trapped with familial thoughts especially because of his sister. Tom is sensitive to his sisters needs and he invites his friend to dinner hoping that he will be her first suitor. Tom longs for escape and a release from the life that has imprisoned him. Although he manages to escape physically from home, his thoughts about his family still render him captive.
Laura is a flat but dynamic character whose physical condition has limited her from fully exploring who she is. Dynamic characters grow or change emotionally or they learn a lesson (Bowera 59). Her sensitive nature and her shyness towards life have greatly restricted her from discovering life and knowing her potential and capabilities. Laura is brought out as quite a strange and unique character. Her very presence is the reason for the constant argument between her brother and her mother. She has substituted people’s affection and has directed them towards her glass animals. This is probably because she can relate to them more than she can relate to people. Like the glass animals, Laura is fragile in nature and breakable (Schwartz 10). Whenever she is faced with unfamiliar situations, she looks for ways, which she can escape instead of confronting them. This is clearly seen when Tom invites Jim for dinner. She feigns sickness instead of joining in their conversation. Once someone gets to know her, Laura is seen as a loving, lovable and cheerful girl. She is able to draw people towards her. This is seen in the way Jim relates with her. He enjoys her company and he kisses her although he has a girlfriend.
Laura does not exhibit her mother’s temper (Smith). Although she feels bad that Jim is engaged, she takes it all in stride and she even gives him her favorite glass unicorn as a souvenir. Laura acts as the mediator between her brother and brother and she usually urges them to get along. She has an understanding nature and this is seen in the way that she talks to her mother about her brother and the way she tries to explain her mother’s behavior to her brother. This also shows how perceptive she is of her surrounding. She is able to see her mothers relished dreams about her past and her brothers longing about his future. Laura changes in a dramatic way because she lets Jim into her world by opening up to him. She does not get overwhelmed when the glass unicorn breaks and this could also be symbolic. She seems broken when she learns that Jim is engaged but this only means that she is just like any other girl, just as the unicorn resembles a horse when its horn breaks (Novel Guide).
Jim is the only character in the play that is not related to the Wingfields. He is also different in character from the Wingfields because he has a more realistic view towards life. He comes across as an insensitive person and this is especially seen in the way he treats Laura. He kisses her and then confesses that he has a girlfriend. However, Jim’s insensitive nature seems to be brought about by Laura’s beauty, which makes it impossible to restrain him. He is careful enough to notice her and refers to her as “blue roses”, meaning her beauty is of a rare kind. Jim does not notice Laura’s physical limitation. He goes beyond that and he even finds pleasure in her company (Summary Central). Jim has an easy nature about him that makes it easy for people to be around him. Laura opens up to him, something that she had not done with her family. She does not even get angry with him after breaking her glass unicorn and after confessing that he is engaged. Amanda is also pleased to be around him. She talks to him differently and she looks for other ways of impressing him. Jim is a foil character and this is clearly seen when he is contrasted with Tom. A foil character works against the character and serves to increase the tension and conflict (Bowden 61). Tom and Jim are different characters whose only connection is that they work together and that they are friends. Tom is an ambitious young man who does not have enjoyable memories and previous achievements. Jim on the other hand has pleasant memories since he was a star in his high school team. Unlike Tom, who seems to have lost all hope, Jim is not discouraged in life.
The movie, “The Glass Menagerie” tells a story of hopelessness and imprisonment as the characters try to escape the world that they live in (vtheater). Tom escapes from reality by writing poetry and watching movies and Laura escapes into her world of inanimate objects as she tries to get over her inferiority complex. Amanda manages to make Tom escape from home while she had tried to keep him there by bestowing the family financial burden upon him. In the end, it seems like she has not yet learnt how to let her children lead their own lives. She has not yet accepted her daughter’s condition and she has not let her live her life as she sees fit. This is a tragic story and unlike many other stories, there is no successful conclusion, and there seems to be no hope for the future.
Bloom Harold. The Glass Menagerie. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing, 2006. Print
Bowden, Darsie. Writing for Film: The Basics of Screenwriting. United Kingdom: Routledge, 2006. Print
Bowera Kristen. Of Mice and Men Literature Guide. United Kingdom: Secondary Solutions. Print
Brinkman Kaya. Literary analysis: The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams. 18 April 2011. Web. 9 May 2011
NewWorldGiftGallery. A Review of “The Glass Menagerie.” Jan 29 2010. Web. 9 May 2011.
Novel Guide. The Glass Menagerie. 2011. Web. 9 May 2011
Schwartz Maritta. The “Soft People” in Tennessee Williams Plays. Germany: GRIN Verlag, 2008. Print
Smith Nicole. Analysis and Plot Summary of the Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. 2010. Web. 9 May 2011
Summary Central. The Glass Menagerie. 2010. Web. 9 May 2011
Vtheater. The Glass Menagerie. 2007. Web. 9 May 2011.
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