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Glass Menagerie References and Lesson Walk Around Ideasgm1

Glass Menagerie References and Lesson Walk Around Ideasgm1

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Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams

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¯ ´ ,, ´.







Hamlet Accidental Death of an Anarchist Hamlet Accidental Death of an Anarchist
agerie Topdog / Underdog agerie Topdog / Underdog The Glass Men
A Christ

The Glass Men
A Christ

mas Carol Ain’t Misbehavin’ mas Carol Ain’t Misbehavin’
Schepps Dairy PROJECT DISCOVERY 2003-2004 PRODUCED BY DTC’S EDUCATION DEPT
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presents PROJECT DISCOVERY





















Characters & Synopsis 3
Tennessee Williams 4
Tom or Tennessee? 5
Symbolism 6
Glossary of Words 7
Vocabulary & Timeline 8
Lesson Plan Ideas 9 & 10
Works Cited, etc. 11
Table of Contents The Glass Menagerie Study Guide

Dallas Theater Center salutes the following
2003-2004 Schepps Dairy Project Discovery Season Sponsors:



2
















Texas Commission on the Arts
The Bob Smith, M.D. Foundation
The Harold Simmons Foundation
The Stemmons Foundation
The Theodore & Beulah Beasley
Foundation
Southwest Securities, Inc.


Cogito ergo sum
M.Masoomi sena265m@aol.com










Characters

Plot Synopsis
Amanda Wingfield. The Mother - a woman “of great but confused
vitality” whose husband left her with two children to raise. Amanda clings
to another time and place.
Laura Wingfield. The Daughter – a girl afraid to leave the family’s
apartment. She collects glass animal figurines, the menagerie of the play’s
title.
Tom Wingfield. The Son & Narrator – Tom wants to be a poet but
must work in a warehouse to support the family.
Jim O’Connor. The Gentlemen Caller – A young man who works with
Tom. “Jim is imbued with the American spirit of self-improvement.”
“The play is memory.” Tom – The Glass Menagerie

The Glass Menagerie begins as Tom Wingfield introduces himself and the text as a play
told from his memory. He presents its participants, and becomes both the narrator of
the story and a main character in the action. Tom is the sole breadwinner for the
Wingfield family; his father deserted the family sixteen years earlier. Tom’s mother,
Amanda, was left alone to raise him and his impaired sister Laura.

Tom joins the action of the play and his mother and sister at dinner. Over the course of the evening, Amanda learns that
Laura, afraid of confronting her mother, has been deceiving her and “wasting precious money.” Instead of attending
Rubicam's Business College as expected, Laura has been taking walks in the park and visiting museums to avoid school, and
the nervous indigestion it gives her. Fraught with frustration, Amanda decides the only course for Laura is to get married.
Amanda asks her if there is any boy in particular in which she has interest, and Laura reveals that she used to have a crush
on Jim O'Connor, the high school hero; but she does not know what has happened to him.

Later that evening, after an argument between Amanda and Tom, Amanda seizes the opportunity and moment alone to ask
Tom to bring home some male friends to meet Laura. Tom promises to try his best.

A few days later, Tom tells Amanda that a colleague of his, Jim O'Connor, is coming over the next evening for dinner.
Amanda is delighted; she makes frenzied, elaborate preparations, and attends to every detail of Laura's appearance. When
Laura learns that the guest is Jim O'Connor, she tells her mother that she will not be able to face him. She is so nervous
about the young man's arrival that she becomes sick; she begs to be excused before Jim arrives. Amanda, however, will stand
no refusals and forces Laura to answer the door when the guest arrives. Laura's debilitating fear becomes so intense that she
is unable to join the others for dinner.
3

After dinner, Amanda asks Tom to help her wash the dishes and sends Jim to the living room to be with Laura. Under Jim’s
warm and charismatic influence, Laura overcomes her nerves and the two enjoy each other’s company and conversation.
There is a mutual attraction and Jim kisses Laura. Whereupon, Jim quickly reveals that he is engaged to be married and
apologizes for his hasty actions. When Amanda reenters the scene, Jim discloses his engagement to her, as well. Amanda
rashly blames Tom for playing a cruel joke on them by bringing over an engaged man. Tom defends himself, saying that he
had no idea that Jim was engaged.

At the end of the play, Tom takes on the role of narrator again. He has left home to become a sailor and pursue his dreams
of adventure. He wrestles with the guilt of deserting his mother and sister, not unlike his father had done previously.
Unable to forgive himself, Glass Menagerie is Tom’s reckoning with his decision and it’s emotional and psychological
repercussions.
Cogito ergo sum
M.Masoomi sena265m@aol.com



Tennessee Williams
Thomas Lanier Williams was born on March 26, 1911 in
Columbus, Mississippi. His father, Cornelius Coffin Williams,
was a shoe salesman who spent a great deal of his time away
from the family. Williams had one older sister and one
younger brother. They spent much of their childhood in the
home of their maternal grandfather who was an Episcopal
minister. In 1927, at sixteen years old, Williams got his first
taste of literary acclaim when he placed third in a national
essay contest sponsored by The Smart Set magazine. The essay
was entitled “Can a Good Wife Be a Good Sport?” Williams
studied for several years at the University of Missouri, but
withdrew before completing his degree and took a job in St.
Louis at the International Shoe Company where his father
worked. Other odd jobs with which he supported himself included waiter, elevator operator,
and theater usher. He eventually returned to school and received a degree from the
University of Iowa in 1938. Whether in school or working in the factory, Williams was
constantly writing. In 1939, Williams moved to New Orleans and formally adopted his
college nickname “Tennessee” - which was the state of his father’s birth.



The Prolific Tennessee Williams
Considered one of America’s greatest playwrights, Williams drew heavily on his family
experiences in his writings. When The Glass Menagerie hit Broadway in 1945, it not only
changed Tennessee Williams’ life, it revolutionized American theater. A Streetcar Named
Desire, The Night of the Iguana and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof are among his other masterpieces.
Among his many awards, Williams won two Pulitzer Prizes and four New York Drama
Critics Circle Awards. In addition to twenty-five full-length plays, Williams produced
dozens of short plays and screenplays, two novels, a novella, sixty short stories, over one
hundred poems, and an autobiography. His works have been translated into at least
twenty-seven languages, and countless productions of his work have been staged around
the world.

Williams struggled with depression through out his life. At a young age he suffered a
nervous break down, and he lived with the constant fear that he would go insane, as did
his sister Rose. For periods of his life, Williams battled with addictions to prescription
drugs and alcohol. Most biographers attribute his inner conflicts in part to the social
strain placed on Williams as a known homosexual during a hostile period in American
history. On February 24, 1983, Tennessee Williams choked to death on a bottle cap at
his New York City residence at the Hotel Elysee. He is buried in St. Louis, Missouri.
4
“Attempting to find in motion what was lost in space…” Tom – The Glass Menagerie
Cogito ergo sum
M.Masoomi sena265m@aol.com


“I am the narrator of the play, and also a character in it.”
Tom – The Glass Menagerie




Tom or Tennessee?
name: Tom Wingfield


mother, Amanda, a vivacious but faded
Southern belle, lives in her memories of
growing up Mississippi gentility; obsessed
with finding a husband for daughter Laura


sister, Laura, suffers from debilitating
shyness, lives in her own world


sister Laura tends her collection of glass
animals known as the glass menagerie

Laura is crippled from a childhood illness
which causes her to limp


father, worked for the telephone company and
later abandoned his family; referred to as a
terrible drunk

Tom lives in small tenement apartment in St.
Louis, in contrast to his mother’s memories of
the genteel South

Tom works in a factory for the Continental
Shoemakers

Tom is a budding poet
name: Thomas Lanier Williams


mother, Edwina, born into Southern gentility;
described as “a busy little woman, never stopped
talking…exuded Southern charm as she did for all
her gentleman callers, especially those she saw as
possible suitors for her daughter”

sister, Rose, “beautiful and unbalanced”, severely
depressed, painfully shy; later confined to a mental
institution and lobotomized

sister Rose had a small collection of glass
animals

Williams suffered a partial paralysis of his legs
due to a childhood illness


father, Cornelius, a traveling shoe salesman and a
violent drunk

Williams was born into a socially prominent,
pastoral life in Mississippi but later moved to a
modest apartment in St. Louis


Williams worked for St. Louis International Shoe
Company

Williams was a poet, playwright, and essayist
5
Cogito ergo sum
M.Masoomi sena265m@aol.com
6

The Glass Menagerie introduces an
extensive pattern of symbolism
that ranges from the clear-cut to
the subtle. Four elements — glass,
light, color, and music — constitute
the substance of the dominant
symbols and motifs, serving to
reveal deeper aspects of characters
and underlying themes of the play.
Symbolism






The menagerie of glass, Laura’s collection of animal figurines, represents the fragile
relationships among all the characters. The glass unicorn is most obviously a symbol of Laura—delicate,
sadly different, an anomaly in the modern world. But, like Laura and like the shining perfume bottles in
the lighted shop windows Tom passes, the unicorn is a beautiful object. The glass motif recurs throughout
the play in other forms. Laura visits the conservatory at the zoo, a glass house of tropical flowers that are
as vulnerable as she is. A glass sphere that hangs from the ceiling of the Paradise Dance Hall reflects
rainbow colors and represents the dreams of the dancers. Laura is spoken of as “translucent glass,” while
the practical and prosaic gentleman caller protests before dancing with Laura, “I’m not made out of glass.”

Lighting in the play is significant for several reasons. In the play’s original production
notes, Williams describes the lighting as “dim and poetic”. The lighting, along with the “gauze curtains”,
lends an unreal aura to the set, suggesting that this family functions in a world of dreams. Like the tricks
Tom professes to have up his sleeve. Lighting gives truth “the pleasant disguise of illusion.” In another
function, lighting serves to punctuate scenes focusing on absent characters. Several times with the lighting
of the original production, we are reminded of the “fifth character” in the play, Mr. Wingfield, who
appears only through a photograph.

color in the play, most notably blue, is associated with Laura, and yellow, is commonly
linked with Amanda. Jim’s nickname for Laura, Blue Roses, suggests a phenomenon that is contrary to
nature. There is an opposition between these strange, different flowers and the natural, gay jonquils
associated with Amanda. In the original version of the play, Amanda’s party dress was described as “a
girlish frock of yellowed voile” and the light that surrounds her as “lemony.” The color comes to suggest
Amanda’s outgoing and optimistic attitude just as blue denotes the melancholy outlook of Laura.

Music is used throughout to evoke mood and haunt memory, reinforcing the
symbolism of the play. Williams once described the recurring glass menagerie theme as a tune that is light,
delicate, and sad, fragile as spun glass. He added, “It is primarily Laura’s music and therefore comes out
most clearly when the play focuses upon her and the lovely fragility of glass which is her image.”

These elements of glass, light, color, and music are drawn together in the
ending scenes of the play. The final appearance of Amanda and Laura is played “as though viewed
through soundproof glass.” Thus the viewer, like Tom, is repeatedly lured back by familiar bits of music,
by a piece of transparent glass, or by tiny bottles in delicate colors that suggest “bits of a shattered
rainbow.” We are drawn back to scenes and characters in the play, settings and people who refuse to be
left behind.
Cogito ergo sum
M.Masoomi sena265m@aol.com
“It wasn’t enough for a girl to be possessed of a pretty face and a graceful
figure…she also needed to have a nimble wit and a tongue to meet all occasions.”
Amanda – The Glass Menagerie

Glossary of Words

Ash pits: large mounds of ash left over from coal furnaces. “You
could see them behind ash pits and telephone poles.” Tom Scene 5.

Berchtesgaden: an area of southeastern Germany, now a
national park, known for breathtaking views of the German
Alps. “Suspended in the mist over Berchtesgaden…” Tom Scene 5.
7

Blanc mange: a sweet, molded gelatin dessert made with milk.
“I’ll bring in the blanc mange.” Laura Scene 1.

Blue Mountain: the small town in northern Mississippi where
Amanda grew up. “One Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain – your
mother received – seventeen! – gentlemen callers!” Amanda Scene 1.

Cakewalk: a dance with a strutting step based on a promenade.
“Won the cakewalk twice at Sunset Hill…” Amanda Scene 6.

Celotex:a type of fiber board used for building insulation. “You
think I want to spend fifty-five years in that - celotex interior!” Tom
Scene 3.

Century of Progress: an international faire held in Chicago
from 1933 to 1934, the theme of which was science and
industry. “…I saw it when I went up to the Century of Progress.” Jim
Scene 7.

Cotillion: a formal ball where debutantes are presented. “This is
the dress in which I lead the cotillion.” Amanda Scene 6.

D.A.R.: Daughters of the American Revolution; national
women’s organization of descendents of patriots of the
American Revolution. “Didn’t you go to the D.A.R. meeting, Mother.”
Laura Scene 1.

Daumier: French painter, sculptor and
caricaturist, known in his lifetime chiefly as a
social and political satirist. “Its light on her face
with its aged but childish features is cruelly sharp,
satirical as a Daumier print.” SD Scene 4.


Doughboy: a nickname for WWI infantrymen. “It is the face of a
very handsome young man in a doughboy’s First World War cap.” SD
Scene 1.

Franco: (1892-1975) general during the Spanish Civil War who
eventually became the ruler of Spain. “Tom slouches on the sofa with
the evening paper. Its enormous headline reads: ‘Franco Triumphs’.” SD
Scene 5.

Guernica: a town in the Basque
region of Spain that was the site of
a massive and brutal attack during
the Spanish Civil War. “In Spain
there was Guernica.” Tom Scene 1.
Hogan Gang: an infamous crime family from St. Louis. “I’ve joined
the Hogan Gang, I’m a hired assassin…” Tom Scene 3.

Jonquils: a species of narcissus having a small yellow
flower. “That was the Spring I had the craze for jonquils.”
Amanda Scene 6.

Jolly Roger: the black flag with skull and crossbones
associated with pirates. “Image on screen: A sailing vessel
with Jolly Roger.” SD Scene 4.

Lawrence, D.H.: (1885-1930) English novelist and poet best known
at that time for Sons and Lovers. “That hideous book buy that insane Mr.
Lawrence.” Amanda Scene 3.

Malaria: an infectious disease transmitted to humans by the bite of
an infected mosquito. It is characterized by fever and severe chills. “I
had malaria fever all that Spring.” Amanda Scene 6.

Mazda lamp: first lighted lamp invented by Thomas Edison.
“…before Mr. Edison made the Mazda lamp.” Amanda Scene 7.

Metropolitan star: a star in New York’s Metropolitan Opera, one of
the foremost opera companies in the world. “Temperament like a
Metropolitan star!” Amanda Scene 1.

Merchant Marine: the fleet of US ships that carried
imports and exports during peacetime and became a
naval auxiliary during wartime to deliver troops and
war materials. “I saw that letter you got from the Merchant
Marine.s” Amanda Scene 4.



Ou sont les neiges?: French - Where are the snows? “Legend on
screen: Ou sont les neiges?” SD Scene 1.

Ou sont les neiges d’antan?: French – Where are the snows of
yesteryear? “Screen legend: Ou sont les neiges d’antan?” SD Scene 1.

The Pirates of Penzance: 19
th
century operetta by Gilbert and
Sullivan. “Here he is in the Pirates of Penzance.” Laura Scene 2.

Pleurosis: an inflammation of the lungs, characterized by chills,
fever, painful breathing and coughing. “I said pleurosis – he thought that I
said Blue Roses!” Laura Scene 2.

Portiere: a heavy curtain hung across a doorway. “Tom divides the
portieres and enters the dining room.” SD Scene 1.

Purina: a hot multi-grain breakfast cereal made from oats, wheat, and
millet. “Eat a bowl of Purina!” Amanda Scene 4.

Quinine: a bitter extract from cinchona bark used as a tonic to treat
malaria. “I took quinine, but kept on going, going!” Amanda Scene 6.
Cogito ergo sum
M.Masoomi sena265m@aol.com
8
Vocabulary Terms


allusion
archetype
automatism
conglomeration
czar
debutante
emissary
emulate
fiasco
imminent
implacable
impudence
incredulous
indolent
mastication


Timeline












matriculate
menagerie
negligence
paragon
querulous
rejuvenate
sensuous
supercilious
tenement
translucent
tribulations
tumult
ulterior
vestige
vivacity


“This is the social background of the play.” Tom – The Glass Menagerie






















World Events



1930 Planet Pluto is discovered
1931 Spanish Republic established

1933 Nazi Revolution in Germany



1934 Communists establish People’s
Republic of China

1936 Spanish Civil War
1937 Guernica bombed, Spain
Hindenberg airship disaster
1939 World War II begins
U.S. Events

First transatlantic flight 1927
“Talkies” end silent films 1929
The Great Depression begins
Franklin D. Roosevelt elected president
under the New Deal campaign 1933
21
st
Amendment added to Constitution
repealing Prohibition
Century of Progress International
Exhibition in Chicago 1934
Works Progress Administration set
up to create jobs 1935
Margaret Mitchell writes Gone With the Wind 1936
Steel strike in Chicago 1937

Pearl Harbor is bombed and US enters into
WWII 1941
“I understood the art of conversation! Girls in those days knew how to talk, I can tell you.”
Amanda – The Glass Menagerie
Cogito ergo sum
M.Masoomi sena265m@aol.com

9

Lesson Plan Ideas

THE AMERICAN DREAM
Consider the fulfillment of the American Dream from the perspective of each character in Glass Menagerie.
Define each character’s interpretation of their dream, citing examples from the text to support your
definition. Where does each character succeed or fail in their pursuit of this dream?
Write, journal, paint, sculpt, etc. your response to one of the following….
How has the American Dream evolved since the 1930s?
Who embodies the spirit of the American Dream?
What is your dream?


SMOKE & MIRRORS
Tom presents Glass Menagerie as “the truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.”
What does he mean? How are the characters illusions? Whose illusion are they? What are the characters’
illusions – about themselves, their relationships or their circumstances?
Contemporary American culture creates and promotes many societal illusions – the possibility of
eternal youth & beauty, unlimited wealth and conspicuous consumption without consequences. What
kind of illusions does the media promote? Locate newspaper and/or magazine articles, cartoons, or
ads that support your choices. How do they promote or criticize these or other illusions in our
society.


WHAT DO YOU COLLECT?
Laura has a collection of glass animals. What does her collection mean to her? Why do people have
collections? Research how people are still involved in collecting – what is the most unusual collection you
discover? the most expensive? the most rare? Delve into one particular collection that you find most
interesting. Start or bring in a collection of your own. How/why is it important or special?


THE GREAT DEPRESSION
Glass Menagerie takes place during Great Depression. Many areas of the world are currently experiencing
economic recession or depressions. Find news articles or research on the web that describes conditions in
those places. What effect do those global conditions have on your life?


HOLD THE GLASS UP TO NATURE
Glass Menagerie was a reflection of Tennessee Williams’ own family life; it was autobiographical in nature.
Do you know of a family story – whether your own or one that you’ve read about in the paper or on the
web -- that you think could be developed into a play? Write a character breakdown, outline and summary
of your play.


WHOSE PLAY IS IT ANYWAY?
Who is the protagonist in Glass Menagerie? Tom, Laura or Amanda? Why?
Tom tells the story -- Would the story be different if told from Amanda or Laura’s point of view? How?
Choose one scene and rewrite it from Amanda or Laura’s POV.
Cogito ergo sum
M.Masoomi sena265m@aol.com

Lesson Plan Ideas Continued…



TEN YEAR PLAN
Imagine Amanda, Tom, Laura or Jim ten years into the future. Select one character and write a letter as if
that character, discussing and reflecting on the events of your life.


TELL IT LIKE IT IS
Compare/contrast the Stage Manager in Our Town and Tom in Glass Menagerie.
What purpose does the role of narrator serve in a play? How does it affect the experience of an audience
member?


SIGNS, SIGNS, EVERYWHERE SIGNs…
Writers often use objects, events or even colors to represent and emphasize complicated ideas. These
symbols often get the attention of the reader better than an explanation of that idea. Discuss the following
symbols in Glass Menagerie: fire escape, Laura’s limp, light, glass unicorn, the candles Laura blows out at the
end of the play… What other symbols can you find? Who do they relate to? What do they represent?


PICASSO & TENNESSEE
Picasso, like Williams, created autobiographical work. Study Picasso’s work from the 1930s – the same time
period in which Glass Menagerie takes place. How was the painting “Guernica” reflective of Picasso’s life?
Why does Williams mention “Guernica” in Glass Menagerie?


FANTASY ISLAND
Each of the characters in Glass Menagerie, including Jim, has a private world in which they escape from
unpleasant realities. Describe each character’s fantasy world.
Where do you go to “escape” when you need to? Create a travel brochure advertising your perfect escape
location/destination.


SEEMS, MADAM? I KNOW NOT SEEMS…
Compare Hamlet and The Glass Menagerie. How do the themes of seems versus is and illusion versus reality play
out in each text? in each character?


LEGENDS & PROJECTIONS
Williams employs the conventions of projections and legends in the original script of Glass Menagerie. Why?
What purpose(s) are they meant to serve? Are they effective or distracting? Create a series of images
and/or titles to represent “chapters” in your life.




10
Cogito ergo sum
M.Masoomi sena265m@aol.com


Works Cited or Referenced:
 
Tennessee Williams biography (page 4): www.lambda.net

Symbolism (page 6): www.bolles.org / AP English Study Guide

Lesson Plan Ideas (pages 9 & 10):
Alive & Loud: Radio Plays for Learning in the Classroom. The Glass Menagerie.
A program of L.A. Theatre works, 1996.
Seaside Music Theater. Studyguide by Gary Cadwallader. 2003.

Jackson, Esther Merle. The Broken World of Tennessee Williams. London: The
University of Wisconsin Press, 1966.

Jacobus, Lee A., Ed. The Bedford Introduction to Drama. Fourth Edition. Boston:
Bedford / St. Martin’s, 2001.

Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. New York: New Directions Publishing
Corp., 1999.


Teachers, please remind your students:
o In live theater, unlike movies and television, the actors can hear (and often see) you as easily as you can hear
and see them. If you talk or whisper during the play, you disturb not only the other audience members, but
also the performers onstage, thus diminishing the performance and, ultimately, your enjoyment of it.

o This doesn’t mean you have to remain silent. Actors want you to respond with laughter and applause; but
such responses should always be genuine and appropriate to the moment. Such inconsiderate behavior as
shouting, catcalling, or sustained whispering can ruin the concentration of actors and other audience
members. Additionally, throwing paper or objects of any kind towards the stage is not only rude, it is
extremely dangerous to the performers.

o In the event of any student misbehavior, the school will be contacted and the lead teacher and principal will
be informed.

o We want you to enjoy your visit to Dallas Theater Center, and we rely on you to exercise your common
sense and mature judgment. Thank you for being a valuable member of our audience this season.

11
Dallas Theater Center
The Glass Menagerie
STUDY GUIDE
Researched & compiled by: Dana Tanner, Lisa Holland,
Patti Kirkpatrick, & Vicki Haller
Layout by: Patti Kirkpatrick
Images contributed by: Amy Lacy & Dana Tanner
Special thanks: Claudia Zelevansky & Julie Boehm-Turley

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