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51. In The Glass Menagerie, how is the blue roses symbol similar to that of the glass unicorn?
Ans: The ‘blue roses’ symbol is similar to that of the glass unicorn as both represent Laura. It refers to the friendly nickname that Jim bestowed on Laura in high school, while the unicorn is Laura’s most cherished piece of glass.
Like the unicorn, this image of blue roses emphasises Laura’s unusual qualities, as well as her fragile beauty. She herself notes that ‘blue is wrong — for roses’ but
Jim assures her that ‘it’s right for you’ (scene 7)
Jim recognises that Laura is not like other people. She lives in a world of her own, withdrawn from others. For a time, though, it seems that Jim has really succeeded in breaking through to her, as symbolised in his breaking of the unicorn’s horn. Laura responds positively to this :
I’ll just imagine that he had an operation. The horn was removed to make hith feel less — freakish ! (scene 7)
The unicorn has now become more like other creatures, less ‘freakish’, just as Laura seems to become more like other people, less isolated and awkward, in Jim’s friendly presence. However, this does not last long, as Jim reveals he is engaged to be married and therefore can’t go on seeing her. Laura is left to resume her life of seclusion.
52. How is the theme of nostalgia illustrated in The Glass Menagerie?
Ans: As Williams himself writes in the play’s extensive production notes, nostalgia is the first condition of the play. Throughout The Glass Menagerie, Williams contrasts the nostalgia of memory with its idealised quality and the harshness of reality. Nostalgia provides a retreat, a parallel universe into which the characters can escape when life gets too hard to deal with.
But nostalgia, as well as providing a modicum of comfort and certainty, is also debilitating. It prevents everyone from moving on with their lives. Stuck in the past, they can never truly live in the present or turn their minds with confidence to the future. Amanda would be the prime example of this. In the figure of Laura, she wants to recreate her salad days as a much sought-after Southern belle, with fine young handsome gentlemen regularly beating a path to her door. Amanda’s younger days provide a haven of repose from her present condition but cannot change the fact that she’s now very much a diminished figure.
For her part, Laura seeks comfort in listening to the records she used to play when she was a girl. Then she felt safe and secure—whereas now, constantly cajoled by her mother to take her place in society, she’s painfully shy and insecure. Laura’s records, rather like the play itself, can only provide only a temporary respite from mundane reality. At some point we all need to deal with the real world. But nostalgia prevents the characters in The Glass Menagerie from doing precisely this.
53. What themes and ideas are introduced for the opening stage directions of The Glass Menagerie?
Ans: A reversal of Realism, Expressionism is employed in Tennesse Williams’s play, especially in the character of Amanda Wingfield who retreats into her illusions where she has lived vitally in contrast to her present existence.
After his description of the characters and setting, Tennessee Williams describes the scene as “memory and …nonrealistic.” Memory calls for “a dim and poetic interior,” Williams continues. The building in which the wingfields dwell is a tenement where there is a narrow alley, from which exits and entrances are made; there are also clotheslines between the buildings, and a “sinister latticework” of fire escapes. Clearly, it is a trapped life that the Wingfield’s live with the father’s portrait looming over them as a reminder of his abandonment. Thus, the themes of loneliness, the merging of the present and the past, and the illusionary quality of life are all present on stage. And, as Tom emerges, dressed as a merchant sailor, the thematic abandonment of another male member from the family is added. Further, Williams writes,
The narrator is an undisguised convention of the play. He takes whatever licence with dramatic convention as is convenient for his purposes.
With Tom as both the narrator and a character in the play, there is the Expressionistic concept of the merging of memory with the present.
54. What are the similarities between Tom and his father in The Glass Menagerie?
Ans: The major similarity between Tom and his father is that Tom, like his father would like to leave his family. Amanda, his mother, suggests a number of ways in which his habits remind her of his father, but it is his hope to get out of the house and the city that mostly resembles his father. On the other hand, Tom is a thoughtful young man who writes poetry and reads D.H. Lawrence, which gives him an air of sensitivity that his father does not seem to have had. Tom has a sense of duty to his family as well, evidence by his agreement to bring his friend Jim to the house to meet Laura. The fact that Tom is bound by his family, like his father was, does not necessarily mean the reader should draw a moral equivalence between the two. It was his father’s desire to break this bond that shackled Tom to his dysfunctional family. On the other hand, Tom is willing to make his escape, which he must have known would throw his family into turmoil, and indeed, he does leave at the end of the play. Presumably unlike his father, he has a few regrets, especially about abandoning his disabled sister:
I descended the steps of this fire escape for a last time and followed, from then on, in my father’s foot-steps, attempting to find in motion what was lost in space. . . . I would have stopped, but I was pursued by something. . . . I pass the lighted window of a shop where perfume is sold. The window is filled with pieces of colored glass, tiny transparent bottles in delicate colours, like bits of a shattered rainbow. Then all at once my sister touches my shoulder. I turn around and look into her eyes. Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be !
55. What are Laura’s social difficulties and issues in The Glass Menagerie?
Ans: The social difficulties and issues of Laura’s character in The Glass Menagerie stem from the woman’s evident social anxiety. In turn, the social anxiety is caused by a combination of her mother’s overprotective nature and the fact that Laura has a slight deformity in her leg that makes her wear a brace. The latter is particularly embarrassing for Laura because she had to go through her teenage years in that condition.
Laura’s anxiety is so intense that she cannot even complete a typing course. She hardly spoke to anybody, and she focuses her stalled energy on her collection of glass animals. Williams correlates Laura to her collection of glass animals not only because she is fragile and unique like the unicorn, but also because of her ephemeral, almost incomprehensible faintness of personality.
She is like a piece of translucent glass touched by light, given a momentary radiance, not actual, not lasting Laura’s social difficulties precede her and continue to follow her as in a curse through the years. As a result, she lives in her own fantasy world, isolated from the world, and stuck in the past. This is why it is such a blow to her to find that Jim O’Connor is no longer the high school hero, but a straight up man, about to get married, and moving forward in life. Instead of changing, Laura seems to get deeper into her fantasy world. Unfortunately for her, this will translate into a never ending cycle where she will never get ahead.
56. What are the glass figurines on the cover of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie?
Ans: The question is very unclear with respect to the version or edition of Tennessee Williams’ 1945 play The Glass Menagerie. What follows, therefore, is an attempt at responding to the student’s question in a broader sense, but with reference to different program or “Playbill” covers that accompanied productions of the play from its infancy to the present.
Williams’ play deals with a troubled, somewhat days-functional family of three : Amanda Wingfield, her grown son Tom, and her daughter Laura. The latter is a physically-handicapped young woman whose sheltered, almost agoraphobic existence is characterised by her immersion in an imaginary world consisting of her collection of small glass figurines, all in the shape of animals. Laura’s collection of glass figurines, the “glass menagerie” of the title, represents her own delicate status. As Williams himself wrote in his production notes accompanying his play :
“A childhood illness has left her crippled, one leg slightly shorter than the other, and held in a brace. . .Stemming from this, Laura’s separation increases till she is like a piece of her own glass collection, too exquisitely fragile to move from the shelf.”
The aforementioned program covers, then, depict glass figurines in the shape of animals. One particular program cover, though, shows only a unicorn, a special addition to Laura’s glass menagerie that is accidentally broken during her one chance at emotional fulfilment when she dances with Jim O’Conner, the somewhat dull young man brought home by Tom in the hopes that Jim and Laura will spark a romance. Unicorns, of course, symbolise purity and innocence, which are two defining characteristics of Laura Wingfield. The accident that results in the glass unicorn’s horn being broken off symbolises the end of the Wingfield family’s hopes for a better future in which Laura is able to break free of the emotional restraints that confine her to the family’s apartment and lead a more normal life.
The probable answer to the student’s question, then, is that the glass figurines are animals and/or a depiction of a unicorn.
57. What are Amanda’s main goals in part one of The Glass Menagerie?
Ans: In the first scene of the play, Amanda’s goals seem to be for her children to attain wealth and status. She chastises Tom for his sloppy habits at the table, and above all encourages Laura to keep herself looking “fresh and pretty” for all the “gentlemen callers” that Amanda seems to think will be coming. It is obvious to the audience that this is unlikely to happen, and Laura herself says that she is not beautiful enough to attract men. Amanda makes matters worse by reminiscing about her own youth, when she was allegedly the object of the affections of many young men. It seems that her concerns for her.children derive in part from a sincere interest in their well-being, but perhaps more out of her desire to live vicariously through them. In any case, she is clearly out of touch with reality, a point that Tom reiterates throughout the play.
58. What are 3 character traits of Tom? Provide evidence.
Ans: In The Glass Menagerie, Tom plays the part of the narrator as well as that of the protagonist. Because he is telling us the story of his family, with an emphasis on how it has affected him, a certain degree of detachment on our part is necessary to assess his personality traits.
Tom’s main trait is his frustration. This results in anguishing inner struggle, since he feels responsible for his inadequate mother and physically and spiritually crippled sister. He would like to escape the oppressive atmosphere of his home as did his father and take to the sea, but feels torn between his need for freedom and his sense of duty.
Two secondary traits result from the above. He neglects his job and uses his time to write poetry, and gets drunk at bars when he is supposed to have spent the evening at the cinema. The poetry and the drinking are just ways in which he tries to break free from confinement without actually leaving.
Because he finally decides that he must leave, he might be dubbed selfish. It is indeed a complex moral issue whether he should waste his life by sharing the waning fate of his family or whether he is entitled to pursue his own destiny.
At the time he tells the story, he is looking back to the past. An additional trait emerges : Tom has never been able to rid himself of guilt. Although he has succeeded in getting away from the noxious atmosphere of his home, he is not at all sure that he has made the right decision in terms of filial and brotherly duty.
59. In “Glass Menagerie,” what does Tom mean: “Oh Laura, I try to leave you behind me but I’m more faithful than I intended to be !”?
Ans: Tom feels confined and trapped by his family situation. He hates his job, and he longs for escape; When he is finally able to break free and physically leave his home and work, he discovers that it is not so easy to break the emotional ties, especially to his sister, Laura. Even though he has been unfaithful by abandoning Laura, he still worries about her and cares for her in his heart, making him’ “unable to leave [her] behind.” He meant to leave everything behind and start a new life with no thoughts of home, but he hasn’t been able to do that.
60. Discuss Jim’s behaviour toward Laura in Scene 7 of The Glass Menagerie.
Ans: On one level, Jim’s behaviour toward Laura is reflective of how far he has come. When he signs the program and when he tells Laura about how all she needs is confidence, the initial supposition is that Laura is struggling and Jim represents a sense of strength. His treatment of her might reflect this. Yet, I think that Williams might want to probe a bit deeper with this. Jim has struggled with his own reality matching the expectations placed on him from high school, when he was projected to be a great success. Accordingly, Jim reflects a sense of ambivalence when he glosses over Laura’s own predicament, reflecting a lack of courage in addressing her own life. His lack of grasp over consciousness is also present when he kisses Laura, but then confesses his engagement. Between Laura and Jim, both characters seem to be challenged, seeking to be less “freakish,” like the unicorn whose horn is broken off. Jim’s acceptance of Laura’s gift reflects that he might not be as solid and secure as one would believe. This underscores Williams’ belief of human frailty that lies at the foundation of the psyche.
61. Name one difference Amanda sees between humans and animals in The Glass Menagerie.
Ans: Amanda is regularly troubled by the behaviour of her children. In order to chastise her son Tom and guilt him into having more conventional goals, she marks the differences between humans and animals more than once. In scene 4, when Tom cites instinct as a driving force of human behaviour, his mother responds, “Man is by instinct! Don’t quote instinct to me! Instinct is something that people have got away from! It belongs to animals! Christian adults don’t want it!” She goes on to say that “Only animals have to satisfy instincts !”
In Amanda’s view, humans are elevated above animals not only in that they can have refined manners, but in that they can choose and work towards concrete, practical goals. Animals act on base, primitive impulses (“instincts”), while humans function by using critical thinking and intelligent decision-making. It is clear from the text that Amanda sees the latter as superior to the former.
Tom’s mother wants her children to be financially sound and secure. Amanda prioritises this over any kind of emotional satisfaction, love, fulfilment, etc. Unfortunately, this kind of pragmatism does not gel with the “instincts” by which Tom is so compelled, hence their argument and the tension in their relationship.
62. How does the fire escape function as a symbol to reveal something about each character’s personality in the Glass Menagerie?
Ans: For Tom, the fire escape is a vital symbol of his life. As the play begins, he says: The apartment faces an alley and is entered by a fire-escape, a structure whose name is a touch of accidental poetic truth, for all of these huge buildings are always burning with the slow and implacable fires of human desperation.
Toms speaks these lines from the fire escape as he remembers the years of his life spent in the apartment with his mother and sister. And it was from the fire escape that Tom finally made his getaway to a life at sea as a Merchant Marine. For Tom, the fire escape is a means of escape from a humdrum existence to a world, hopefully, filled with romance and adventure.
All entrances and exits in the play are done via the fire escape.
For mother and daughter, Amanda and Laura, the fire escape offers not much hope for escape or personal expansion. For Amanda, it is the place from which her husband left her years ago never to return. The fire escape for her, then, is but a poignant reminder of what she and her family has lost. And sadly, too, for Laura, it is from the fire escape that Jim, the long-awaited gentleman caller made his brief entrance and hasty retreat, back into the loving arms of his girlfriend Betty.
63. How does Williams’ essay “The Catastrophe of Success ” relates to The Glass Menagerie?
Ans: I think that Williams’ essay can connect to the drama in that it highlights the hollowness that exists in external reality. For Williams, success breeds with it a condition of entrapment in which one seemingly believes the external reality, as opposed to concentrating on “the real” element that underscores all of reality. Williams’ ending to the essay; almost Thoreauian or Emersonian in how it demands that individuals reject comfort or elements that conceals struggle, is what he uses to explain that there is a sense of “the real” that needs to be harnessed and understood by all people and specifically, the artist. In the drama, Williams constructs characters who are in search of this element of “the real.” Jim O’Connor lacks this full understanding of “the real,” constantly wavering between what he thinks he wants and what it is he wants. He turns out to be a character that has to strip away his own constructs to find his own essence, as Williams suggests in his essay. Amanda lives in this condition, as she is immersed in her past beauty, her past construction of power. She lacks what Williams suggests is needed in understanding of what reality truly consists. In this, she becomes disenchanted and fundamentally miserable, though she will never admit it. Her family falls apart because of it. Tom’s thoughts of leaving and finding happiness is undercut by
the notion that wherever he goes, unhappiness will follow. Tom has capitulated and fallen victim to the idea that contentment and personal happiness can result through external change and nothing from within. It is for this reason that Williams suggests that the artist must be in tune with a world that does not represent the trappings of success, of external reality, and rather recognize that which is real and constant, something that Tom never does. It might be that within all of these characters, Laura might be the best off in that she recognizes reality in the most authentic of manners at the plays conclusion. In the end, the condition that Williams brings out in his essay is the reality of many of the characters in the drama.
64. Discuss Psychoanalytic criticism in The Glass Menagerie.
Ans: I think that the psychoanalytic criticism can be applied to the family dynamics that Williams gives. On one hand, the family emotional dynamics presented reflect some deeply disturbing psychoanalytic issue. The father abandoning the family is one scar that has not been fully addressed in the family. To this end, Tom replicating those same behaviors becomes disturbing. This might be why the ending of the play reflects that while Tom is out of the family, there is still a disenchantment present in his state of being in the world. At the same time, Amanda is depicted as one who seeks to bring back that which has passed. The idea of Amanda as one who can only find joy in the nostalgia of her past, reliving that which is no longer there, also gives us a strait of a psychologically complex figure. Interestingly enough, I think that a case can be made for the most psychologically sound figure to be Laura. While she is perceived to be weak and frail, I think that a case can be made that she is the most centred character because she is not trying to be something she is not. There is little disconnect between her conscious state of being and her subconscious. In this, I think that the psychoanalytic portrait of the family is one where complexity is present due to the dynamics within it.
65. In The Glass Menagerie, what is the symbolism of lightning and candlelight?
Ans: Lightning is wild, uncontrollable, and more often that not, fatal. This is how the world, that big old scary world outside, seems to Amanda and her family, especially Laura. Candlelight, on the other hand, is delicate and fragile, easy to control, and just as easy to extinguish, making it almost the perfect symbol for Laura.
Candlelight is also used to symbolise Laura’s emotional state. Observe how her face lights up as if illuminated by a candle when Jim smiles at her. And observe once again how the “holy candles on the altar of Laura’s face have been snuffled out” when she finds out that Jim has become engaged to a woman named Betty. This demonstrates the extent to which it’s always someone else, and not Laura herself, who gets to control the light in her life, thus blurring the symbolic distinction between lightning and candlelight
66. Do you think Toni was wrong or right leaving borne? Please discuss how you feel…
He was not wrong in leaving the house. Tom was old enough, strong enough, healthy enough and fed enough to make a man out of himself, and initiate a new life. He was, indeed, way past-due at Amanda’s home, I can almost see myself in his position and I can guarantee you that I would have not lasted long.
Tom had a passion that he had not been able to feed. But, once you discover your passion, to deny it is the same as to extinguish it. Tom would have,ended up in very bad steps if he had not at least tried to move way from the pressing environment of his home. Ultimately, Amanda, Laura, and every single human being is responsible for their own lives and for seeking their own happiness.
67. Analyse Laura “struggling visibly with hei storm” after Jim’s confessions in “The Glass ! Menagerie.”
Ans: Laura becomes dizzy and leans against the arm of the sofa, struggling with the idea that Jim actually likes her, but is not available. She is going through a tremendous transition while Jim explains that he will not be returning for another visit, because he is engaged.
Even though Jim is unavailable, for Laura, it is actually a positive experience. Something positive is happening for Laura, while at the same time, something disappointing. The reader knows that Laura feels happy because she gives Jim the unicorn, without the horn as a souvenir. If she was desperately upset, she would have fainted, as she did before.
“She bites her lip which was trembling and then bravely smiles. She gently takes his hand and carefully places the unicorn in the palm of his hand, then pushes his fingers closed.”(Williams, pg. 92)
Laura gives Jim the unicorn as a symbol of how he has changed her through their brief romantic encounter. Although Laura experiences a sudden storm of emotions in this scene, she emerges with a new sense of herself and her worth.
Even though the situation does not work out with Jim, the reader must consider that Laura has had a life changing experience. She was so shy at the beginning ofJim’s visit, not willing to sit at the dinner table, by the time he leaves, she has danced and been kissed, probably for the first time in her life.
68. Which aspects of the play are realistic and which are unrealistic?
Ans: What seems realistic about the play is the situation in which the Wingfield family finds itself. Amanda is a single mother of two adult children since her husband has deserted all of them. Like many single mothers, Amanda struggles to make ends meet, and adding to her stress is the fact that her daughter Laura is mentally and physically fragile. It seems realistic that Amanda would look to her son Tom to look after them and that he would resent the burden and want to make his own life plans.
What seems less realistic are the lengths to which Amanda is willing to go to have Laura looked after. She is too eager to foist Laura onto Jim O’Connor, a former classmate and a colleague of Tom’s, about whom she knows very little. At the awkward dinner party she organises, she tries to sell Jim on Laura calling her “very pretty” and “very domestic” and calling Jim their “gentleman caller” as if he is there solely to court Laura. Because of Laura’s issues, one would expect that her mother would be very protective and sceptical of any man who showed interest in Laura instead of trying to lasso a casual acquaintance into a serious relationship over a single dinner.
69. What are the props in “The Glass Menagerie” ? List all the Props.
Ans: The previous answer gives a very good list of many of the props required for a production of this play. As many theatre scholars and professionals have probably noticed, the plays or Tennessee Williams contain very specific and detailed stage directions and physical descriptions of sets, props, costumes, and character actions. Therefore the props mentioned may offer some very significant symbolic commentary on the characters associated with them, in addition to being practical objects used for the play’s action and setting.
For example, the glass menagerie of the title may be the most important set of props in this play, and most productions make sure to go to the trouble of making sure this prop is authentic and well-executed. Having an actual glass unicorn that gets broken is key, as this is a symbolic shattering of Laura’s innocence. In a play with multiple performances it may even prove necessary to purchase multiple identical figures, assuming a technical solution to reusing them cannot be found.
The dining room place settings are also important, as Amanda places such pride in her hostessing skills and the appearance of her home. Likewise, the vase of jonquils, which represents Amanda’s youth and her obsession with being a young attractive girl, is very important and the flowers should be real if at all possible.
Because the play deals with the illusions and disillusions of the characters’ lives, it may also be possible to represent some of the physical objects in the play in a symbolic or other non-realistic way; for example, the jonquils could be obviously fake and this becomes a commentary on Amanda’s lack of authenticity and failure to remain grounded in reality, or it could represent the fact that the vibrancy of nature is absent from her life.
70. What is the comedy in The Glass Menagerie?
Ans: Although The Glass Menagerie shows more pathos (appeal to the sentiment of the reader) than comedy, one could argue that we could consider as “comedic” any element within the play that helps us see the situation in the Wingfield family form a much lighter perspective.
This being said, we could argue that Amanda Wingfield provides, at specific points in the play, quite the comedic element. One of these instances occurs at the beginning, when she tells her stories about the South, where she would expect gentlemen callers in the afternoons. What is funny about this is that her children, Tom and Laura, seem to be quite used to her telling the same story, with the same upbeat attitude. However, Laura asks Tom to let their mother tell the story; after all, it is the only cheerful tales they really ever listen to in their dreadful city apartment.
There were the Cutrere brothers, Wesley and Bates. [..] His widow was also well provided for, came into eight or ten thousand acres, that’s all. She married him on the rebound – never loved her – carried my picture on him the night he died !And there was that boy that every girl in the Delta had set her cap for ! That brilliant, brilliant young Fitzhugh boy from Greene County !
TOM: What did he leave his widow ?
AMANDA: He never married ! Gracious, you talk as though all of my old admirers had turned up their toes to the daisies !
TOM: Isn’t this the first you’ve mentioned that still survives ?
Here the comedic element is picturing Tom, above all people, actually following his mother’s conversation, because he has heard it already so many times.
Moreover, when the prospect of Jim O’Connor’s visit becomes a reality, we can certainly giggle when we picture Amanda’s desperate preparations for the dinner, as well as when we realise that Amanda has donned one of the most ridiculous dresses she could possibly wear in a last attempt to reignite her past as a former Cotillion Belle. This scene is sure to cause a stir in a typical audience.
AMANDA: Something I’ve resurrected from that old trunk! Styles haven’t changed so terribly much after all.
[ She parts the portieres. ] Now just look at your mother !
[ She wears a girlish frock of yellowed voile with a blue silk sash. She carries a bunch of jonquils – the legend of her youth is nearly revived. ]
[ Feverishly ]: This is the dress in which I led till cotillion, won the cakewalk twice at Sunset Hill, vvt) one spring to the Governor’s ball in Jackson ! See hot! I sashayed around the ballroom, Laura ? [She raises skirt and does a mincing step around the room.] I we; it on Sundays for my gentlemen callers !
Hence, the image of a middle-aged woman with a hyperactive temper and a crazy disposition to remain attached to the past may be a sight too sad for the sensitive eye, but there is certainly an element of comedy that Tennessee Williams may have wanted to in, dude to lighten up an otherwise depressing, but realistic, plot.
71. What is meant by lights going out in the middle of dinner in “The Glass Menagerie”?
Ans: The lights going out in the middle of dinner have both a literal meaning, Tom did not pay the electric bill, and a figurative meaning, it is a foreshadowing of what will happen to Amanda and Laura at the end of the play.
During the dinner with the gentleman caller, Jim, the lights go out because Tom has neglected, on purpose, to pay the electric bill, using the money instead to pay his dues as a Merchant Seaman. Tom is planning to leave his mother and sister very soon.
The foreshadowing occurs because Williams gives us an indication of what will happen to Amanda and Laura, they will be left both literally and figuratively in the dark when Tom abandons them.
Amanda and Laura depend on Torn for financial support, when he walks out on them, they are stranded in the dark, with no money to pay the electric bill, and no options.
Laura is left with darkness when Jim, the gentleman caller, admits to being engaged to another girl. Her one chance at happiness is cut short. Laura is abandoned by her brother, who can no longer put up with their mother’s nagging and demanding ways.
Amanda’s world goes dark as she is shocked and saddened by learning of Jim’s status as an engaged man and Tom’s abrupt and angry exit from the apartment.
72. How is Laura motivated primarily by loss?
Ans: Laura lives a life of loss. She does not have full use of her leg. She is crippled and wears a brace. She lives a life of loss by not fulfilling her mother’s dreams for her. Her mother desires for Laura to meet a man and many. Laura is introverted. She has low self esteem. She cannot even attend classes for college. She does not have the courage to tell her mother she has not been attending classes. She is so withdrawn. She is fragile much like her glass collection :
Laura is the daughter of Amanda and sister of Tom. She is extremely shy, even emotionally disturbed, and she wears a brace on her leg which makes her feel
conspicuous. Her collection of glass animals gives the play its title. She does not work, and she has been unable to complete a typing class because of her nervousness. Although she says she had once liked a boy in high school, she has never had and is unlikely to have any kind of romantic relationship.
Laura’s mother harasses Laura. Amanda will not be satisfied until Laura meets a young man. Laura is not likely to meet someone; therefore, she feels so much pressure from her mother.
Finally, after being harassed by Amanda, Tom brings someone home to meet Laura. Laura at least interacts with Jim. She even dances with Jim, but again Laura faces a loss when Jim explains that he is engaged to someone. Once again, Laura faces loss. She just cannot seem to achieve it. Of course, she has a negative image of herself basically because her mother Amanda never stops nagging. Amanda is so negative. She frets about Laura not having a man in her life. No doubt, Laura feels pressured at her sense of loss.
73. How does Tennessee Williams develop Tom’s character in The Glass Menagerie?
Ans: Tom’s character arc throughout the play is a circular one, since Tom is looking back on a story that has already taken place. Tom cautions the audience that his memory may be faulty, but he will try his best to tell the story as it happened. At the end of the play, we may conclude that Tom is seeking absolution or, at least, forgiveness for his actions, even though leaving his family was an act of self-preservation.
Within the memory portion of the play, which takes up the bulk of the action, Tom is seeking an escape from his life, and particularly from his mother, Amanda. He finds any excuse to go out late at night, and is on edge whenever he is at home. While Tom knows his mother is right, that Laura’s best chance for a normal life is through marriage, they also both seem to acknowledge that Laura will never marry.
Tom is petulant with his mother, but consistently kind to his sister. By the end of the memory, it is clear that Torn must leave his family if he is to make anything of the life he has remaining. However, through Tom’s final narration, it’s clear he has always wondered if he did the right thing, as he knows Laura’s life was filled with suffering because he left.
74. Do you think Amanda is a good mother ? Why?
Ans: There’s no easy answer to this question, which is what makes it such an interesting one. Amanda is very much a bundle of contradictions, and these inevitably feed into how she raises her children. On the one hand, you could argue that she is indeed a caring mother in that she’s very protective towards Laura, sheltering her from a harsh, scary world that could crush her gentle spirit at the drop of a hat.
At the same time, there’s something rather cloying and restrictive about Amanda’s mother-love. She simply can’t let go of her children; she feels that she’s earned the right to decide how they should live their lives. Parental guidance is one thing; control-freakery quite another. And Amanda’s chronic inability to learn the difference between the two is primarily what holds her back from being the best mother she could possibly be. Whether this makes her a bad mother is a moot point. But there’s little doubt that there’s significant room for improvement in terms of her parenting skills.
75. Why is Amanda obsessed with finding a suitor for Laura?
Ans : As an ageing mother, Amanda realises that she needs to have her children in stable positions so that they may be able to provide for her. Her conflicts with Tom indicate that she does not trust him to provide for her–she has also seen his application to the Merchant Marine. In addition, she may worry that he may follow the path of escape that her husband, whose smiling portrait lurks over the family.
With the play’s setting in the 1930s, Amanda certainly is aware of the limited opportunities for young woman. This is why she has encouraged Amanda to enrol in Rubicam’s Business College. Then, when she discovers that Laura has dropped out of the school, Amanda sees a “gentleman caller” as the last saviour for Laura. This saviour image is suggested by Tennessee Williams’s production notes that the news from Tom that man is coming is referred to as the “Annunciation” and the candles arc I ,aura’s “altar.”
If Laura marries, Laura will be provided for, and Nmanda gains some comfort from knowing that she has two people who can care for her in her old age. Therefore, to Amanda, Laura’s marriage is a solution to the family’s problems.
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