The Glass Menagerie Pdf Download Questions and Answers

The Glass Menagerie Pdf Download Questions and Answers


Q. 1. Discuss The Glass Menagerie as a memory play.

[The Glass Menagerie Pdf Download Questions and Answers]


Ans. When the lights go up on stage, we are addressed by a narrator, Tom Wingfield, who explains the set-up of The Glass Menagerie. While we hear music in the background, he tells us: “The play is memory. Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental, it is not realistic. In memory everything seems to happen to music. That explains the fiddle in the wings.” He then goes on to introduce the characters in the play: himself, his mother Amanda, and his sister Laura.


a In The Glass Menagerie where the relation between the characters and their past attains the centre stage; Williams associated the term “memory play”. Although he does not provide a definite definition but ascribed the desired effects and implications: “because of its considerably delicate or tenuous material, atmospheric touches and subtleties of direction play a particularly important part.” It maybe related with Favorini’s definition “One in which the intention to remember and/or forget comes prominently to the fore, with or without the aid of a remembering narrator; in which the phenomenon of memory is a distinct and central area of the drama’s attention… or in which memory or forgetting serves as a crucial factor in self-formation and/or self-deconstruction.” (2008).


Although the term “memory play” was coined by Williams, it was not completely a new genre. Indirectly the term referred to the connection between theatre and memory extend fro the beginning of stagecraft. Theatre was defined by the Greeks being one of the arts as a daughter of Mnemosyni, the personification of memory. In Greek drama anagnorisis forms an integral part of the dramaturgy, and this tragic recognition can be defined as an “existential repositioning of an individual vis-a-vis the past” (Favorini, 2008) for the Greek plays perpetually dramatized the notion of memory and remembrance.


In The Glass Menagerie, William presents a study of frustration narrated through the narrator-Tom’s recollections. Amanda Wingfield with her abandonment, Laura with her physically crippled self, Tom with his futile aspiration to be a poet, and Jim with his journey from being a somebody to anybody, are sentenced to solitary confinement inside their own lonely scheme as long as they live on the earth. The mother and the children oscillates between illusion and reality as Williams gives us “Truth in the pleasant guise of illusion”- truth that never spared by the illusion. The fragility of the human experiences is mirrored in the glass toy world in which Laura dwells and consoles her loneliness. Of the three Wingfields reality has by far the weakest grasp on Laura. The private world in which she lives is comprised of glass animals- objects that, like Laura’s inner life are fanciful and delicate. She is a dreamer, much like Walter in A Rassin in the Sun but unlike Walter, Laurą does not dream of wealth and power, she simply dreams of beautiful things, not concrete things, but things that inspire feelings of freedom, joy and serenity. Jim used to call her “Blue audiences realize that it is an apt metaphor for her as it symbol Roses” . Laura is presented as an extremely shy morbid and sensitive person, as fragile as the little glass animals and the old phonograph records which serves as an escape routes from the outside world. Her introvert self is in sharp contrast voluble, forceful and even brutal nature as she dwells in a world of candlelight and fantasy. Laura’s encounter with the machine age is brief and useless. She could no more learn to type better than Tom could ever come to like his job in the warehouse. Yet, unlike Tom, Laura does not seem to feel the ugliness and entombment of their lives. She never steps into the world for fear of it being unbearable. Standing on the brink of it, with her own shell enclosing her, Laura catches the beauty of the world without, restraining herself to belong to it. Williams comments, “Laura’s separation increases till she is like a piece of her own glass collection, too exquisitely fragile to move from the shelf.” She takes her affliction as a dreadful predicament as her own self. This flaw, is symbol of the crippling a sensitive person thrust into a world unwilling to make allowances for sensitivity, becomes he cause of her separation from reality with the result that Laura is the furthest removed from the world. Although her physical handicapped appears to be slight, she has grown accustomed to her abnormality since childhood. Laura’s withdrawal is severe enough to make her unable to cope with living beyond her phonograph and glass collection.


When Laura leaves the apartment to run and errand for her mother, she slips and falls on the fire escape. Even the steps connecting the apartment and the outside world proves dangerous for Laura – her complete vulnerability is something she has resigned to. When Amanda is lost in her own world of illusion – Blue Mountains and the seventeen gentlemen collars – Laura is slightly amused –“mother’s afraid I’m going to be an old maid.” Although she is quite an withdrawn, Laura knows that she is problem both for her mother and her brother and this trouble is the result of what they believe and how they act and the view that ihey have of her rather than anything she consciously tries to impose on them. There is no desperation or nervous urgency in Laura’s going to “the art museum and the birdhouse at the zoo” to the movies to the green house for tropical flowers. She would be content in her own world, willing to admit anyone such as the gentleman caller – Jim O’Connor whose interest in her glass collection results in a passionate reply – “My glass collection takes of a good deal of time. Glass is something you have to take good care of… most of them are little animals made out of glass, the tiniest little animals in the world. Mother calls them a glass menagerie!” Perceptive of others feelings, Laura senses her mother’s need to romanticize her own past. When Amanda is about to talk of Blue Mountains and seventeen gentlemen callers, tom is exasperated – “I know what’s coming!” And Laura snubs him gently “Yes, but let her tell it.” She stands in between her mother and Tom and suffers in their ugly wrangling. Laura is her own self with Jim and as he enters her world of glass, she journeys into his. Jim response to her differences causes her to forget her disability. When the young man breaks the horn of the unicorn – the one element – that had made it unique – she is not disturbed. Symbolically, her calmness represents her desires to be normal and not remain unique individual – distinct from others. As Jim is about to leave, Amanda requests him to come back soon for other good times, but Jim turns down the suggestion, explaining his engagement to another girl whom he plan to marry soon. This dismantled Laura’s newfound confidence, as she sends forth the broken unicorn with Jim before relapsing in her former dream world.


Memory operates through transformation and selection and Williams, well aware of the schematics, uses non verbal meta- theatrical elements to emphasise these operations. He takes the subjectivity of the process of remembering as the basis for the drama by taking the entire play as a reconstruction of the protagonist Tom’s memories. Psychoanalyst Kris terms it a personal myth for the protagonist and narrator Tom presents the audience with his memories which are but plastic and may be reshaped in degrees of psychological necessity. The dramaturgy of the play reflects the workings of Tom’s autobiographical memory in a variety of ways. On top of the subjectivity of the normal memories, Toms’ subjectivity is demonstrated through the adoption of what Casey terms as “schematicalness”. In conclusion it my be said that by staging the process of founding a personal myth from memories, Williams on one hand invents a true “memory play” while on the other hand, creating for himself the possibility to expand the boundaries of theatricality for memories adhere not to the concrete laws of realism making the play, in the words of Jacobs, “A brilliant, profound and intricate study of declarative memory and its psychological uses.” 


Q. 2. Discuss the character of Laura in The Glass Menagerie .


1 Ans. Laura is a character in Tennessee Williams “The Glass Menagerie”, which is set in past day St. Louis. The play is about the Wingfield family; Amanda, the mother, Tom, her son, Laura, the daughter, and Jim O’Connor, a gentleman caller. Tom is the provider for the family and the play is told from his memory. Laura is an extremely shy young lady because of a childhood illness that left her crippled with one leg slightly shorter than the other. She is controlled by her mother whom is living in the past and trying to live her dreams out through Laura. This play is bursting with symbols, from images projected on the screen throughout the play, music played in the background, and in the play itself. This leads to the question, what symbolizes Laura throughout “The Glass Menagerie”? After analyzing the material, Laura is symbolized by the blue roses, her glass menagerie, and the unicorn.


In “The Glass Menagerie”, one way Laura is symbolized is through Jim calling her blue roses, which shows her uniqueness. When she returned to school after an attack of pleurosis , one of her classmates, Jim O’Connor thought she said she had blue roses so he called her that throughout school. Blue roses are extremely rare just like Laura is. Tom says that “Laura is very different from other girls” . Most girls her age in the time period were focused on finding a husband and settling down, but Laura does not care about things like this. “She lives in a world of her own”, Tom said while talking to his mother about Laura. The blue roses are also used to symbolize the affection Jim has for Laura that is showed at the end of the play. He goes on telling of how wonderfully different and beautiful she is. Jim says“… being different is nothing to be ashamed of. Because other people are not such wonderful people… They walk all over the earth. You just stay here. They’re common as-weeds, butyou-well, you’re-Blue Roses!”


Laura is also symbolized through her glass menagerie, which shows her fragileness. It is stated that “she is like a piece of her own glass collection, too exquisitely fragile to move from the shelf” (281). Laura is extremely fragile where her emotions are concerned. At one point in the play Tom throws his jacket across the room and breaks one of her glass figurines which cause Laura to have a breakdown. She cries out “My glass!-menagerieâ•}” Laura covers her face and cried as if she were wounded, this proves how fragile Laura’s sprit is; the smallest incident causes her to break. When Jim comes to eat supper with the Wingfield family, Laura is so shy that she does not want to open the door for him and she pretends that she is sick and cannot eat” (308-309). All these examples prove how fragile Laura is.


Finally, Laura is symbolized by the unicorn, which shows her growth. Throughout the course of the play it is evident how important the glass menagerie is to Laura. When Jim is over for dinner she lets him hold the unicorn; this alone is a huge step for Laura because she does not let anyone touch her beloved glass figurines. He places the unicorn on the table and he and Laura begin to dance. They accidently bump into the table knocking the unicorn of the table which broke his horn off. Previously in the play Laura broke down when Tom broke one of her figurines, but now she has grown and accepts what happened and takes is as a blessing in disguise, and says that he will fit in better now with the other horses. This is symbolic of Laura by showing how much she has grown throughout the play. In the beginning of “The Glass Menagerie”, Laura is just a fragile young girl who’s only passion in life is her glass menagerie, but as the play progresses she grows into a stronger young lady who does not let material things break her as before. It also shows that she is no longer letting her handicap hold her back from the things she aspires to do.


On the other hand, people may not believe that blue roses, glass menagerie, or the unicorn symbolize Laura. Others may argue that the blue roses are just Jim teasing Laura and do not represent Laura as a unique young lady but, the text proves that they are used to symbolize her. Jim even calls her blue roses again to explain how different she is. Also critics may believe that the glass menagerie does not symbolize Laura. They may say it is only a toy that she is obsessed with, because in reality it is only a toy, but Laura identifies with it. Just as she is fragile, so are the glass figurines; the slightest fall will cause both Laura and the figurines to break. Yes, they may also say that the unicorn is only one of her glass ornaments she gave to Jim and that it does not mean anything, but in actuality it proves how much Laura has grown throughout the play. At the end of the play, Laura’s heart is broken when Jim tells her that he will not be able to call her because he has a girlfriend. The once weak-minded Laura would have had a breakdown because of this but; instead she briefly gets comforted by her mother then gets herself together, blows the candles out



Throughout the course of “The Glass Menagerie” Laura has been symbolized in many ways; the blue roses, the glass menagerie, and the unicorn; all of which symbolize her in a different ways. The blue roses show how beautiful and unique she is. Her glass menagerie symbolizes how fragile Laura is, and the unicorn represents her growth. Laura went from a painfully shy, scared little girl into a more confident, open young lady.




Q. 3. Discuss the character of Tom in The Glass Menagerie .


Ans. The Glass Menagerie, written by Tennessee William, among the finest American tragedies, is an autobiography of the author that reveals several of the playwright’s flaws as well as his strengths as an individual. Tennessee William uses the form of a memory play to intertwine illusions and reality; therefore, the reader can only captivate the truth of human ideals and dreams acted out within an illusionary world. Memory excludes details, or exaggerates certain events that are meaningful for the narrator; in this case, all the events are seen through Tom’s memories. Thomas L. King makes a significant statement about this play “we see not the character’s memory of them – Amanda and the rest are merely aspects of Tom’s consciousness”. Given that it is a memory play Tom, the narrator, attempts to draw the reader into the floating state of memory, past images and dreams; hence, he is imbued by his memories, which has caused him to illustrate each character based on his own personality aspects. According to PhD Darryl E. Haley, “If these descriptions are elements of Tom’s personality, as well as of characters in the drama, Tom has five-part personality.” Therefore, Tom has projected characteristics of his persona to the five characters in the play: Amanda, Laura, Mr. Wingfield, Tom and Jim.


The character of Laura has also been drenched by Tom’s memories. Laura is emotionally and physically crippled. She is a fragile woman incapable of facing the real world; instead, she chooses to escape reality by living a world of illusions and dreams. These are facets which the narrator – Tom Wingfieeld – constantly goes through. Benjamin Nelson once described Tom as “the protagonist in the story (who) possesses the romantic soul of a dreamer.” Although he is a dreamer, Tom’s inability of fulfilling his dreams has emotionally destabilized him, causing him have a low-self steam and to create mechanisms of defense in response to his failure. Furthermore, Tom has been emotionally damaged by the abandonment of his father. As a result of all the frustrations Tom has gone through, he could be considered to be physically crippled as he has too, decided to escape the reality of his failure and has come to live a world delusion. Tom has infused Laura as an emotionally and physically crippled person; thus, this could too describe the emotional state of his own character. “she lives in a world of her own” –


Although Jim is “the most realistic character in the play”, he too, has been imbued by Tom’s memory; However, Tom did not infuse this character with qualities of his own self, instead, Jim represents the idealized character Tom would like to become. Jim is a nice and young man, who is able to bring hope into the Wingfield family. Jim has high expectations of life, he does not bewail unfulfilling dreams or remains in his past glory but instead, he seeks for potential opportunities to expand as an individual. Most importantly, he is able to bring Laura out of her floating state of unreality; for once, he is able to make her feel secure and loved. These are the idealized personality aspects, Tom Wingfield, would like to attain. The character of Jim is the different of Tom’s character.


Tom has projected many of his personality aspects to Mr. Wingfield, as he has too abandoned his family. Mr. Wingfield is the character that the narrator -Tom- uses to indicate his selfishness, impulsiveness and irresponsible partpersonality. Mr. Wingfield manages to escape reality leaving his family behind while each member is capsulated in illusions and emotionally damaged, mainly because of his abandonment. Mr. Wingfield was “a telephone man who fell in love with long distances; he gave up his job with the telephone company and skipped the light fantastic out of town”. Mr. Wingfield loves long distances, more than what he loves his family, a rian whose only desire is to fulfill his dreams, in spite of the wellbeing of the family. Mr. Wingfield left with no explanations, forsaking the family and rejecting the responsibility of a father. Tom, too, possesses these personality traits. “I’m planning to change. I’m right at the point of committing myself to a future that doesn’t include the warehouse and Mr. Mendoza or even a night-school course in public speaking”. In a similar way, Tom decides to be a “selfish dreamer” and follow his father’s footsteps by leaving Amanda and Laura unprotected. 


Despite the narrator, Tom Wingfield, has projected characteristic of his persona to the five characters in the play: Amanda, Laura, Jim, Tom and Mr. Wingfield.


Q. 4. Discuss the character of Amanda in The Glass Menagerie .


Ans. Amanda Wingfield lives in a world that fluctuates between illusion and reality. When it is convenient to her, she simply closes her eyes to the brutal, realistic world. She uses various escape mechanisms in order to endure her present position in life. When life in this tenement world becomes unbearable, she recalls the days of her youth when she lived at Blue Mountain and had seventeen gentlemen callers in one Sunday afternoon. Indeed, this story has been told so often that it is no longer an illusion and instead has become a reality. She likewise indulges in playful games so as to escape the drudgery of everyday living. She tells Laura, “You be the lady this time and I’ll be the darky.” She refuses to acknowledge that Laura is crippled and instead refers to her as having only a slight physical defect. She refuses to accept the fact that Tom is quite different from her and that he, like his father, will someday leave in search of adventures.


But she is unable to live forever in this world of illusion. The pressures of everyday living force her to face many unpleasant facts. Chief among these is the position of Laura. As she tells Laura: “I know so well what becomes of unmarried women who aren’t prepared to occupy a position.” Even if she fails to acknowledge Laura’s defects, she is realist enough to understand Laura’s difficult position. Furthermore, she has seen the letter that Tom received from the Merchant Marine and knows that he will soon be leaving. Facing these brutal facts, she makes Tom arrange to have the gentleman caller arrive.


But Amanda is full of other paradoxes. She wants only the best for her children, but then she fails to understand that what they most want is quite different from what she wants for them. She does gear her whole life toward their happiness because she doesn’t want them to make the same mistakes that she made and yet in devoting herself to them, she has made herself overbearing and nagging.


Amanda’s refusal to see that her children are quite different from her causes her many uncomfortable moments. She cannot understand why Laura cannot develop charm and gaiety but Amanda’s idea of charm differs vastly from that of Laura’s idea. Amanda can, at any moment, turn on a volley of chatter, be exceptionally lively and gay; Laura, on the other hand, lives in a quiet, sensitive world.


But Amanda possesses strong attributes. She does devote herself to her children. She does possess a great determination and strength. Many women could not have survived under the same situation. When she thinks a gentleman caller is coming, she sets herself to the task of preparation with a determination that cannot be equaled in her children.


If, in the final analysis, she is seen as giddy and frivolous, it is because life has passed her by. When her husband deserted her, she found herself faced with an empty and meaningless life. She then began to fabricate things with which to fill her life. She devoted herself too much to her children and began to live through her children. Since she was reliving her own life, she failed to understand the different personalities that her children possessed and ended up driving Tom away from home.


Thus Amanda is a person who lives alternately between a world of illusion and a world of reality. This fluctuation between these two worlds is her only defense against the boredom and emptiness of living.


Q. 5. Discuss the character of Jim in The Glass Menagerie .


Ans. In his opening speech, Tom states that Jim is “the most realistic character in the play, being an emissary from a world of reality that we were somehow set apart from” (145). However, because Tom has a “poet’s weakness for symbols,” he is “using this character also as a symbol; (Jim) is the long-delayed but always expected something that we live for.”


He does not appear until the end of the play because Laura’s material and figurative need must first be established so that we are able to anticipate his potentially answering that need. His potential to satisfy her materially is fairly clear: If she has a husband like him, she will be at least provided for in the near future, and will be even better off as he takes night courses and moves ahead. That he has the potential to satisfy her need on a figurative level is established through a multitude of symbols


In the character descriptions preceding the play, Jim is described as a “nice, ordinary, young man.” He is the emissary from the world of normality. Yet this ordinary and simple person, seemingly out of place with the other characters, plays an important role in the climax of the play.


The audience is forewarned of Jim’s character even before he makes his first appearance. Tom tells Amanda that the long-awaited gentleman caller is soon to come. Tom refers to Jim as a plain person, someone over whom there is no need to make a fuss. He earns only slightly more than does Tom and can in no way be compared to the magnificent gentlemen callers that Amanda used to have.


Jim’s plainness is seen in his every action. He is interested in sports and does not understand Tom’s more illusory ambitions to escape from the warehouse. His conversation shows him to be quite ordinary and plain. Thus, while Jim is the long-awaited gentleman caller, he is not a prize except in Laura’s mind.


The ordinary aspect of Jim’s character seems to come to life in his conversation with Laura. But it is contact with the ordinary that Laura needs. Thus it is not surprising that the ordinary seems to Laura to be the essence of magnificence. And since Laura had known Jim in high school when he was the all-American boy, she could never bring herself to look on him now in any way other than exceptional. He is the one boy that she has had a crush on. He is her ideal. 


In the candlelight conversation with Laura, he becomes so wrapped up in reliving his own past that he seems once again to think that he is the high school hero who swept the girls off their feet. He becomes so engrossed in the past that he not only breaks Laura’s favorite piece of glass, but he also breaks Laura’s dreams and hopes. He was so engrossed playing the role of high school hero and amateur psychiatrist that he failed to see what emotions he was building up in Laura. His most accurate description of himself is when he refers to himself as a “stumblejohn.”


But Jim’s function in the play is more important then his seemingly ordinary character would allow. Since Laura lives in a world of illusion and dream, Jim, as the ordinary person, seems to Laura to be wonderful and exceptional. He is so different from her own world that he appears to be the knight in shining armor. 


Q. 6. Discuss The Glass Menagerie as a play within play.


 Ans. Obviously, The Glass Menageries is a narrative, but there is a distinct narrative within the larger narrative of The Glass Menageries. When the curtains rise on Tom for the first time, he introduces the audience to a second story, one set in the past, the tale of his final days with his family. This memory, which he literally enters a few moments later, actually constitutes an otherworld for him. Just as Amanda mentally inhabits Blue Mountain, so Tom-the-narrator inhabits the Wingfield apartment, living with Laura in St. Louis, though in reality he left her and their mother years before. The setting of The Glass Menageries helps to establish the play within the play as an otherworld. The apartment is set in an alley rather than on a busy street, figuratively a place set apart from the world, from reality. In fact, Jim is described as the only visitor to finally break the seal of this otherworld, an “emissary from a world of reality that we were somehow set apart from”


Speaking more broadly, the audience itself inhabits an otherworld of sorts during the course of the play. We are drawn into the “small and tender” story of Laura, which relieves many of us of the “austere pattern of life” and suspends, for a moment, the passage of time. Williams describes this effect when he calls a play a “world outside of time” (Where I Live 50). However, this otherworld of Williams’ is as ephemeral as any other. When Laura is destroyed, we are forced to trade the charm of the theater for our lives outside. For a few moments, however, the play does help to make life endurable to the sensitive. Incidentally, the very act of writing was an otherworld for Williams; in 1959, he wrote, “At the age of fourteen I discovered writing as an escape from a world of reality in which I felt acutely uncomfortable. It immediately became my place of retreat, my cave, my refuge” (Where I Live 106). In his Memoirs, he adds, “There are worse things than a fantasy world to live in. I wonder, indeed, if a fantasy world is not the only world inhabitable by artists” (196). As strange as it may sound, Williams even depicts the act of composition as bringing an artist into an otherworld which is specifically Laurine.


The play’s temporal contrasts would also have been clearer for GM’s original audience. Within the play, before the last act, the present is consistently dreary, whereas the past is full of wonder. This would also have been true of the play as a whole; the original audience would have seen Tom in his merchant-marine uniform as a figure in the dreary present, whereas his memories are of a past which contains a personality which haunts him, which he feels nostalgia for. When present-day theatergoers see a lost Tom in merchantmarine garb, they are seeing a past which is not necessarily nostalgic, but the past would have been consistently nostalgic originally. Williams does direct that the setting of the play is “Now” and in “the Past” (127).


One indication that the play within the play is an otherworld for Tom parallel to Amanda’s is his insistence that it is not necessarily the past as it was, but that it is “memory” — his memory (145). This is important, because one of the statements Williams is making concerns the nature of memory, not simply the nature of the late 1930s. To an extent, his memories represent all of our memories; he seems to be saying that we all rely on such ephemeral otherworlds. One of the consequences of our entering memory is that what we are shown is “not realistic,” it is “sentimental,” which explains the “fiddle in the wings” (which we literally hear). Williams believed that everything in memory is set to music, so music plays an important part in the play within the play. This should not be too surprising, because we have already seen how otherworlds and musicparticularly music evocative of nostalgia-go hand in hand.



Q. 7. Comment on the symbolism in The Glass Menagerie.


Ans. Symbolism is the part and parcel of The Glass Menagerie. We have already known that Tennessee Williams has not succumbed to the temptation of the nineteenth century realism. He was well-aware of the limitations of the 19th century realism. He felt handicapped by the confining power of the 19th century realism.


So he decided to make that mode of realism flexible by adopting the technique of symbolism. Unlike the 19the century concrete realism Williams’s realism is somewhat distinct. Williams’s realism is psychological. The Glass Menagerie has striven to bring into light the psychological realism. To give the psychological touch of realism, representation at the literal level is pretty insufficient. That is why, Tennessee Williams had to depend upon the technique of symbolism. In addition, it is the added goal of Williams to capture the reality of illusion. To portray the reality of illusion Williams felt a dire necessity of symbolism. Let’s see what some of the symbols, Tennessee Williams used are and how these symbols are inextricably connected with the central theme.


The Glass Menagerie: This symbol retains crucial importance because the play itself is entitled on the basis of this symbol. ‘The Glass Menagerie’ is the creative product of Laura’s defected inferiority. is through this menagerie that Laura succeeded in defecting her heavy inferiority into the direction of creativity. Typically this symbol for Laura’s own innocent way of deflecting inferiority into an admirable outcome to delicate creativity.


The glass Menagerie is also a symbol of isolation. It is a symbol of the artificiality of her handicapped and heavily interiorized creativity. In the same line of interpreting this symbol, it appears to be a symbol of the reality of illusion, which is overtly pleasingly to Laura. In a nutshell, it is a symbol of escapism.


Unicorn: In her glass Menagerie Laura had manufactured a unicorn of glass. This unicorn has one horn only. The unicorn is totally extinct on earth. Laura’s existence in the external world is virtually extinct. So, to make her life parallel to her illusionary world, she makes a unicorn which is extinct in the world. The virtual extinction a unicorn is ggestive of the virtual extinction of Laura in the real world. Apart from this, the characteristic of a unicorn, it is easily breakable. The brittleness of the unicorn suggests the fragility of Laura. When this unicorn fell into the hand of Jim O’Connor, it broke at once. This breaking away of the unicorn is illustrative of the emasculation and impotence of Jim O’Conner.


Jim O’Connor: The most practical and realistic character Jim O’Connor is himself a symbolic character. He has been held as an emissary of an external world. For the most part Jim is realistic. In comparison to other characters he is somewhat safe from the danger of illusion. It is he who stressed upon the importance of thinking, acting and living in line with realism. No matter how tali a claim of being realistic, his claim suffers serious defects. To overcome his present difficulties and obstacles, Jim has been choosing new fields like radio engineering and rhetoric. His choice is practical and realistic. But his overemphasis upon the alchemy of the future is dangerously risky. It is an act of illusion to negate the present with the device of the future. In this regard Jim appears to be an unconscious victim of illusion.


The play is embedded with other minor symbols. The rainbow that comes from the color of Laura’s glass menagerie is a symbol of illusion. The blowing out of light is also a symbol of the forthcoming disappointment resulting from the gradual revelation of the fact that Jim O’Connor is a fiancé of some other girl. The setting (Wingfield’s house in the urban tenement) is designed to be symbolic of isolation. Amanda’s moral platitudes “rise and shine, rise and shine” symbolizes her conviction that moral purity and refinement is a passport to success. The character “Laura” itself is symbolic of the passing freshness and fragile lushness of Laurel. The grinning portrait of Tom’s father is symbolic of the embedded memory of betrayal and isolation as reflected in the mind of the character.


Q. 8. Comment on the theme of Appearance versus Reality in The Glass Menagerie.


Ans. The difference between appearance and reality creates an ironic gap in the play The Glass Menagerie. The characters of the play pretend to be happy and fine which contrasts sharply with the realities of their lives. This creates the situation of illusion in the play.


This illusion is simply a facade used by the characters to hide from the ugly realities of their daily existence. Such kind of illusion provides a temporary escape from the bitter and the harsher realities of actual life. People who are unable to face the facts of life result of such delusions. Despite providing a temporary relief from the tensions and problems of life, the return to reality is inevitable and shockingly enervating.


Many of the characters live in the fantasy world of their own. They deliberately try to turn their back on the actualities of life. Amanda, the mother takes herself to her beautiful past when she used to be courted by a number of gentlemen callers. She fabricates stories of her beautiful past and imposes those stories on her children. She is a widow left behind by her husband without much to provide for the family. Her daughter and son are failures who have not worked to meet her expectations. She is enacting a drama to show that there are no problems. There is a conflict between appearance and reality. Amanda speaks in a very jovial and a frivolous manner as if she has no problems. She is forcing herself to be led by illusion. When the world of illusion topples down, she remains a broken woman. Talking about the gentlemen callers make her forget the sorrows and problems of her present. The present is reality and the past of gentlemen callers is an illusion. No matter how hard she works to keep her in the idealized past, the intensity of the problems of real life draws her back to the present. Laura is also withdrawing into the world of artificial glass animals. In real life she is a cripple who has failed her mother in the academic life. She is very shy and has not been able to accomplish anything. The glass menagerie is a dream world. Her fascination for the glass animals contrasts with the reality of her life. She is psychologically paralyzed by a sense of humiliation and inferiority. To make up for this sense of loss she takes refuse in the fantasy world of glass menagerie. The animals there are very fragile and breakable. When the mother realizes that Jim will not marry her daughter, the artificial world of dreams suddenly breaks down. Tom has his own version of the tension between appearance and reality. The reality of his life is that he has not been able to help his mother to get Laura married off. He has not been able to earn much. He is like his father. He has not been of any meaningful use to his widowed mother. The realization of this inability to be of use to his family takes him to the world of movies. He loses himself in the illusory world of dreams and fantasies symbolically represented by the cinema. He may feel joy as long as he is in that unreal world but the moment he comes out of the cinema hall, he unwillingly has to face the realities of actual life. Even Jim, who is said to be an emissary from the world of reality, has his own illusion about future prospects for his career.


In this way, the dramatization of the gap between appearance and reality gives the play an ironic touch. The characters use false appearance to hide the true reality of their lives. Escape to the world of illusion is an attempt to deny the bitterness of real life. However, the stay in that false world is bound to end shortly bringing them face to face with the reality of their present life.


Q. 9. Comment on the Dramatic Technique in The Glass Menagerie.


Ans. Tennessee Williams has given a purely unique touch to The Glass Menagerie by not dividing his play into Acts. Unlike other classical plays and the nineteenth century plays The Glass Menagerie has not been divided into Acts. It is a collection of seven scenes. Though the play is a collection of scenes, these scenes are brought in a sense of tight unity.


It seems Tennessee Williams had been preoccupied with the pressing need to capture the unity of action. He aims at keeping intact the sense of smooth continuity of action. His motive behind not dividing the dramatic action into acts is to keep intact the uninterrupted unfolding of the action. There is another reason also. The Glass Menagerie is an enactment of moments in Tom’s memory. While enacting moments in memory it is very difficult to divide the action. The content of memory is not subject to the structural division. The substance of memory gets unfolded in an uninterrupted and unperturbed manner. That is why the dramatic action remained undivided and unbroken. The technique of avoiding the principle of dividing the action into Acts had been effectively handled by Tennessee Williams in The Glass Menagerie.


The second effective technique handled by Tennessee Williams is the technique of the psychological realism. This technique helped the playwright to give particular attention to the organization of conversation. Williams so designed the dialogue in The Glass Menagerie that it reveals character. The nature of the characters of this play gets revealed through the snatches of the conversation. If we read the play with an analytical insight we come across those elements, which illustrate that some characters have still been immature. The clumsiness of some characters, the awkwardness of their get revealed from the further progression of dialogue. In this play Amanda Wingfield constantly admonishes her son Tom to munch his food properly before swallowing it. From this frequent admonishment of Amanda to Tom, we guess whether Tom is suffering from an unknown imbecility. Amanda constantly tells Laura to feel as though nothing had happened to her, as though she is physically spotless. From this advice of Amanda to Laura, we come to comprehend that Laura was afflicted with a deeply embedded flaw in becoming extrovert.


Due to the technique of the psychological realism Williams paid close attention to the art of depicting characters’ psychological reactions. Towards Amanda’s much-more-repeated-admonishment (Rise and Shine, don’t smoke, and don’t go to a movie) Tom Wingfield reacted violently. He called his mother witch. From this sort of angry irritation made by Tom, we catch a glimpse of what kind of psychological makeup Tom Wingfield has. Once we trace the psychological makeup of the psychological realism.


The third crucial technique Williams adopted is the technique of using the same character of the play as the narrator. Because this play is a memory play, it is customary of the playwright to make one of the characters the narrator. Because The Glass Menagerie is a modernist play, which defies the illusionist conventions, it is pretty imperative to include one commentator. To insert a brief hint of commentary upon the conventional theatre personnel is to declare the innovative and the distinctive dimension of the play. In the brief introduction Tom remarks:


“Yes, I have tricks in my pockets, I have things up my slave. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.” The fourth virile technique handled by Williams in The Glass Menagerie is the technique of using music, lighting, legend, screen play and images. These various elements help to embody the alive and fresh moment of the past in the memory of the narrator. To bring into the prominence the pathos and plight of characters Williams introduced legends and images. For instance, when Laura was bringing out her past life in school from the chamber-box of her memory, the image blues-rose came. When Amanda was recklessly persuading Tom to stop hankering for a movie and adventure, the legend of Jolly Roger came. In this technique helped the playwright to catch the emotional intensity of the present by virtue of legend and screenplay.


Last but not the least, Tennessee Williams made use of an indirect technique of ending the play as though a new play in the life of character is going to begin. The play opens with the narrative commentary delivered by Tom Wingfield. It ends with the interior m sue of the frequently frustrated Tom Wingfield. Thus, the play is given a sense of closure and completion from the view point of Tom Wingfield. Thus, its structural compression is tanta mount to the structure of Tom’s painful moment in his painful memory


Q. 10. Discuss Laura as a Romantic Superwoman in The Glass Menagerie .


Ans. Laura Wingfield is the sort of character who chose the world of fantasy in this mundane world of naked reality. Laura Wingfield was face to face with the brutal limitations of this phenomenal world. She felt oppressed by the harshness of the external world. She knew that the phenomenal world, the world of self-fulfillment can’t accommodate the greatness of her vision and view.


The worlds of matter, the world of phenomenon, the world of stark eventualities were anathema to Laura. That is why she longed for the world of fantasy, the world of imagination and the world of isolation. The external world had made her heavily inferior. That is why she chose to live in the world of fantasy. In her fantasy world she made full use of her imagination. She manufactured little glass animals like unicorns. All those products in her Menagerie were breakable, soft and delicate. She did not care anything at all about the world. More and more she depended upon her imagination and fantasy. She resembles a romantic figure. Laura represents the kind of woman who, despite life’s hardships, has maintained her love for nature and art as depicted by her collection of glass animals. Her name in itself is symbolic of her affection for nature. As an artist Laura represents the artists longing for absolute fulfillment she stands for the fragile, almost unearthly ego brutalized by life in the industrialized, depersonalized cities of the western world. The physically and emotionally fragile Laura escapes from her mid-twentieth-centuryurban predicament in St. Louis, to which her family has migrated from the rural-pastoral south.


Like a romantic, Laura expresses her love for nature. In the collection of little glass animals she made nature has found its expression. Even Laura’s name signifies her affinity for the natural together with the transcendent: “Laura” is, somewhat ironically derived from the laurel shrub or tree, a wreath of which was conferred as a mark of honor in ancient times upon heroes and athletes; and “Wingfield” brings to mind the flight of birds across a meadow.


Jim’s nickname for Laura “Blue Roses” signifies her affinity for naturalflowers-together with the transcendent-blue flowers, which do not occur naturally and thus come to symbolize her yearning for both ideal and mystical beauty and spiritual or romantic love. That beauty is also symbolized by Laura’s favorite among the animals in her glass menagerie, the fabled, otherworldly, unicorn. And that love comes to her, however fleetingly, in the person of her name, Jim O’Connor, who beatifies, Laura by emphasizing what is special, even divine, about her and downplaying her disability.


Laura embodies a remarkable, romantic ethos. Her dedication to art, her adherence to nature and her effort to attain transcendence collectively signify the imbedded romantic perspective on the play The Glass Menagerie. Moreover, the playwright’s fascination with symbols, images and the filtration of experiences come through memory.



Q. 11. Discuss Tom as a Representative of the 20th Century Man.


Ans. Tom Wingfield is a conscious self. Most of the time he is seen observing and reflecting his experiences, his memories. The entire play is an enactment of a moment in his memory. The kind of reality Tennessee Williams has captured in this play is the reality that exists in memory.


The main events of the play are filtered through the perspective memory of Tom Wingfield. The series of experiences and emotions that are presented in the play are the conscious outcome of Tom Wingfield’s reflection on his past. It is an enactment of his memory. He is torn between responsibility and irresponsibility. He is torn between escapism and a necessity to involve in action. He is on the eve of transition. Most of the time he is seen consciously reflecting. But reflection alone does not satisfy him. He is compelled to act also. There arises a gap between his conscious reflection and his action. That is why he suffers.


The nature of his suffering ought to be taken into consideration. Tom suffers because he can neither kill reality nor worship illusion. He is not totally jobless. He is an employed man. But his employment is a source of extreme dissatisfaction for him. He aims at effecting progressive change in his life. He made tremendous effort also. But he remained trapped in the static and the sterility of life.


Having seen the unconquerable and invincible nature of the dreary reality, Tom gave birth to a propensity to escape. This escapist propensity led to his being seduced by the magic-charm of illusion. Tom knew, by that time, that adventure is the surest way of escaping the confinement and cage of life. That is why, he chose adventure. Finally, he left his house for an adventure. But he was compelled to return by the magnetic pull of love and the call of responsibility.


Tom Wingfield is a man caught between illusion and reality, duty and freedom, involvement and escapism, and reflection and action. He is stuck with these problems. He is inextricably trapped in these two disrupting conflicts between these polar opposites. In this regard Tom appears to be representative of the suffering of modern man. The modern man in the twentieth century is wholly torn between these polar opposites. He can’t easily distinguish between illusion and reality.


Q. 12. Discuss Nature of illusion in The Glass Menagerie.


Ans. Almost all the characters in the play resort to illusion as a defense against the harsh realities of life. An illusion is a faulty notion of happiness when life is surrounded by bitter and harsh facts. The play centers around the hopes, despairs, predicament and failure of Wing field family.


The Wingfields try to escape from reality to a world of fantasies, dreams and imagination to mitigate the pain resulting from a realization of failure and frustration of actual life. Temporary stay in the dream world is pleasant, but the return to reality if inevitable.


Amanda, the mother, finds that her son has not worked and earned enough.



Her daughter is a cripple who suffers from inferiority complex. She has failed in the study and is very shy. This present reality is not satisfying in any way. Unable to face the bitter reality of present life she tries to live in her past when many gentlemen callers used to visit her. She tells the stories from her past and imposes her dreams and wishes on her children. But it is only an illusion. Laura has her own illusion too. A psychotic and a cripple with a great degree of shyness she has withdrawn into the world of artificial glass animals. The beauty of the glass menagerie fascinates her and helps forget the pain of real life. But the glass animals are fragile and breakable. It’s also a glass of fragile dreams. The moment the glass animal is broken, she is awakened to the reality of life from which she was hiding herself. When Amanda comes to know that Jim will not marry her daughter the artificial world of dreams has broken down. She is enacting a drama to show the there are no tensions. She tries to hide behind the facade of illusion to conceal her sorrow and problems. She speaks in a very jovial manner in order to show that life is devoid of problems. She forces herself to be led by illusion. When the world of dreams breaks down, she remains a shattered woman. Tom has his own world of illusion as well. Being unable to have any worldly success he lives in the world of movies to escape from the realities of life. Though he is more independent and better able to withstand the assaults of his mother, he shuns responsibility and resorts to the illusion of cinema. His ultimate decision to leave his sister and mother behind and move to the sea provides him an escape. However, it is also an illusion because a sense of guilt will always haunt him that he has run away from the responsibilities of life.


The gap between appearance and reality helps us understand the nature of illusion in the play. Though escaping into the world of illusion is not a reliable solution, the people concerned have found a remedy for the sickness of life. As their stay in the world of illusion can help them to temporarily forget the aches and pains of life the illusion sounds pleasant. The playwright has succeeded in prompting us thinking along that line by dramatizing the conflict between reality and illusion. No matter how pleasant the world of illusion may be, one cannot, however turn ones back complacently on reality for long.



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