Tennesse Williams’ episodic play The Glass Menagerie reflects the economic situation and desperation of the American people in the 1930s. He portrays three different individuals who are confronted with the realities of life and choose different paths to escape them.
The glass menagerie, the play’s title, and most prominent emblem reflects Laura’s fragility, otherworldliness, and sad beauty. Laura’s fantasy world, her shelter from society, is embodied in the collection.
Memory and nostalgia, filial piety and responsibility, and gender roles are all major themes in The Glass Menagerie. Tom’s memory and nostalgia are central to The Glass Menagerie. Tom, Laura, Amanda, and Jim are all affected by traumatic memories as well as nostalgia.
We have summarized the whole story below for your quick insight into the play.
|Original Title||The Glass Menagerie|
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Summary of the Play
The Glass Menagerie is a memory play in which the action is based on the narrator’s memories. The play is set in St. Louis in 1937. Tom Wingfield, the narrator, is an aspiring poet working in a shoe warehouse to financially support his mother, Amanda, and sister, Laura. Mr. Wingfield, the father of Tom and Laura, deserted them years ago leaving only a postcard behind.
Amanda, who comes from an aristocratic Southern family, tells her children stories about her perfect childhood and the several suitors who chased her. She is gravely disappointed in her daughter Laura as she is extremely shy and does not attract any gentlemen callers. At one point, Amanda pushes Laura to attend a business college with the hope of changing their financial condition. Due to Laura’s extreme shyness, she gets dropped out of college and Amanda finds out that Laura was loitering around the city alone instead of joining classes. Disappointed in Laura, her mother thinks that her last hope lies in her marriage and begins to sell magazine subscriptions in the hope to attracts suitors for Laura.
Meanwhile, Tom Wingfield finds his salvation from the warehouse job in liquor, movies, and literature. During one of Laura’s many confrontations with her son, Tom breaks several of Laura’s beloved glass animal figurines.
Amanda is concerned about Laura’s future and tells Tom to keep his eye open for possible suitors for Laura. Tom selects Jim O’Connor, a casual friend as a potential suitor for his sister Laura. Jim wins over Amanda as he is focused on his career advancement. Laura comes to her caller’s name at the last moment and as it turns out she had a devastating crush on Jim in high school. After receiving Jim at the front door quickly Laura disappears inside the house leaving Tom and Jim alone. Tom tells Jim that he has squandered the money he had set up for his family’s electricity bill to join the merchant ship and plans to leave his career and family behind in search of adventure. Laura refuses to join the dinner with everyone and Amanda keeps Jim entertained throughout the whole course of dinner.
After finishing dinner, Amanda tells Jim to entertain Laura while the lights go off due to unpaid electric bills. Despite her shyness, Laura opens up to Jim for his warm and open behavior. Laura confesses to Jim that she had a crush on him. Jim praises her uniqueness and reproaches her low self-esteem.
Laura shows her most prized possession to Jim, a glass-made unicorn. Jim breaks the unicorn’s horn while dancing with Laura. But Laura forgives him. Then Jim suddenly kisses Laura but draws back quickly, apologizing as he has a fiancé already. Laura offers the broken horse to Jim as a souvenir.
Amanda, upon entering the living room, gets a hold of the situation and sees Jim off warmly. Then she blames Tom for this unpleasant situation by telling him he is an inattentive and selfish dreamer. After that Amanda goes off to comfort Laura for her insult.
Jim is sacked from his job not long after his visit, leaving Amanda and Laura behind. Years later, he discovers that no matter how far he travels, he is unable to forget his regretful memories of Laura.
This one-act play is the first successful and also one of the most known works by the author. It portrays the most sensitive and poignant portrayal of domestic tragedy.
The play is a must-read for any classic fan.