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Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams

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Published by adnan

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Categories:Types, Reviews
Published by: adnan on Dec 12, 2010
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02/10/2013

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The Values of a Society: The Glass MenagerieByWalter S. Zapotoczny Jr.
Set in the American south during the Great Depression, The Glass Menagerie is a powerful talenarrated by character Tom Wingfield, who reflects on his memories of family life and theeventsleading to his departure from the Wingfield home. Tennessee Williams writes the story,set in the1930s during the Great Depression. It deals with a Southern family living in a citytenement in StLouis, Missouri. The story reflects the values of the society and a family that belongs tothelower middle class in the late 1930s, a time of struggles and national conflicts. It depicts peoplewho have lost their fortune and must work hard to survive, but who are not able to forgetabouttheir wealthy past. The play opens with a description of the Wingfield apartment and itssurroundings. Tennessee Williams shows how the architecture of the buildings resemblesthelife of the people that live there, people living in a mass of human beings withoutidentity. Heshows them as isolated, like prisoners in a beehive that destroys their individuality andmakesthem like cattle. Tom, who is a sensitive person, is aware of this fact and wants to escapeto preserve his creativity. He thinks that his creativity will be destroyed if he remains insuch a place.The Wingfields’ apartment is like a prison from which Amanda and Laura, Tom’s mother andsister, are unable to escape. By the end of the play, they are even more deeply enmeshedin their closed world than they were at the beginning. Amanda’s great hope was that Laura wouldgraduate from a business college and pursue a career as a secretary, but once she findsout thatLaura was too shy even to attend classes, she pins all her hopes on finding Laura ahusband.When that scheme fails too, all hope seems lost. A life of worry, economic insecurity anddependency seems inevitable. As a contrast to this, an image of escape is presentedthroughout
 
the play, in the form of the photograph of the father that hangs on the wall. However,when Tomfollows his father’s example and walks out on his family, he finds that however far hetravels; heremains trapped by the reach of memory. He cannot forget his sister and her plight. Thetwowomen in the play, Amanda and her daughter, Laura, live inside their own illusions because theoutside world is too painful for them to face. Amanda lives in another time and place, thegenteel, idealized world of the south during her youth. St. Louis during the 1930s is adifferent proposition altogether, and Amanda fails to make the adjustment. She endlessly repeatsexaggerated tales of the south, and her numerous “gentlemen callers.” She assumes thatwhatworked for her (even though the man she chose walked out on her) will work for Lauratoo, eventhough times have changed. Tom tries to force her to face the facts that Laura is differentfromother girls, but Amanda refuses to accept this. All she can do is wish on the moon thatthingswould turn out the way she wants them.Set against the economic frustration of the Wingfield family, which leads to a closedcircle of experience, is the ideal of the American Dream, which points ever upward. In spite of her impoverished life in St. Louis, Amanda is a believer in the Dream. She tells Tom that hesimplyhas to work hard, and he will succeed. The poetic, imaginative Tom is not the sort of mantocultivate a normal career leading to success and wealth. Those are not his goals. Jim,Tom’sfriend, represents the idea of the American Dream more. He is in love with theachievements andthe promise of technology, and he has embraced the spirit of self-help and advancementthrougheducation. He believes that his life is on an upward trajectory, and that if he studies and plays hiscards right, he can go as far as he wants to go in his career.Even though the play draws directly on Williams' personal past, it presents situations andconflicts with which everyone can identify. The play reflects the values of the depressionsocietyin which it is set and in which it is written. Most readers can identify with the play sincethey
 
have experienced some sense of entrapment caused by financial need. Many have beenraised infamilies with only one parent. Almost everyone has felt Tom's rebelliousness, his desiretoachieve independence, to experience adventure, to escape the boring routines of everydaylife.All of us too will have felt something like Laura's conflicting emotions of shyness andlongingfor romance, her fear of the world and her yearning for connection.www.wzaponline.com/ValuesofaSociety.pdf+the+glass+menagerie
Tennessee Williams’s Dramatic Charade:Secrets and Lies in The Glass MenagerieGilbert Debusscher
Recent scholarly criticism has remained convinced that The Glass Menagerieis “Tennessee Williams’s most autobiographical play, accurate to the imaginativereality of his experience even when it departs from facts in detail” (Parker 3) andthat “No one who has reviewed even the bare details of his biography can over-look the obvious similarities between the record of his early life and the eventsdescribed in The Glass Menagerie” (Presley 86); the playwright’s official biogra- pher also contends that “Tennessee Williams had still to prove that this was not awriter’s single autobiographical (emphasis mine) success” (Leverich 585). It isfutile to dispute the resemblance between biographical facts and dramatic fictionin this play and yet it is worth pointing out that a number of features of the play arenot attested in reality and, conversely, that well-established aspects of Williams’searly adulthood are not reflected in the play. Mrs. Edwina Williams, the playwright’smother, pointed out the many differences between the Williamses and theWingfields (149-150, 174-175), and Cornelius Williams, the father, is recorded ashaving failed to discern any similarity between Amanda and Edwina and havingresented the accusation of abandoning a family from which, on the contrary, hefelt he had been psychologically excluded and ultimately physically exiled(Leverich 567); moreover, literary models other than the members of the Williamsfamily—D.H. Laurence’s characters in Sons and Lovers or Hart Crane, as manand poet—can be discerned as in filigree through the texture of the Wingfieldsaga (Debusscher 167-188). Therefore, without disregarding the personal, docu-mentary nature of the material but giving equal weight to the omissions, the dis-crepancies, and the additions—the dramatic strategies—I suggest that The GlassMenagerie be termed “autofictional,” i.e. the result of a conflation of real life andfantasy, the poetic (re)arrangement of fact within fiction, the imaginative fiction-alization of autobiography.It has often been reported that in later years when The Glass Menagerie had

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