Glass Menagerie Tennessee Williams Could Term Paper

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86). Jim symbolically inspires Laura to accept her individuality and to see that beneath her outstanding traits she is no different from anyone else. His gentility and kindness, borne of Southern culture, help Laura come to terms with herself and her social awkwardness.

Laura's personality transformation through Jim's kindness paralleled her symbolic transformation through the unicorn. Had the unicorn not been made of glass, its horn would not have so easily fallen off. Moreover, the unicorn broke during a moment of joy for Laura, during a dance. Williams seems to suggest that Laura will achieve positive personal transformation as a result of her interaction with Jim.

The transformation from unicorn into horse is a central symbol in the Glass Menagerie. In fact, Durham also notes that Williams was concerned with the concept of personal transformation when he wrote the play (p. 62). Ironically Laura, who is crippled physically and socially, emerges as the character most likely to change. Williams suggests that through her fragility Laura can find belongingness and acceptance. The playwright was likely rewriting his personal narrative through his "memory play." Because the play is told through Tom's mouth and not Laura's, the audience does not know exactly how, when or even if Laura does come to terms with her psychological setbacks. However, the unicorn transforming into a horse offers a poignant symbol of hope.

The glass menagerie symbolizes not only Laura's fragility but that of the entire Wingfield family. Amanda may be the strongest Wingfield but Tom and Laura's mother is also vulnerable. She demonstrates an acute sense of financial insecurity and must feign confidence and strength in spite of having been abandoned by the men in her life. The Glass Menagerie is an inadvertently feminist play for several reasons. First, Amanda encourages Laura's occupational growth and self-sufficiency. Although she was raised in a traditional Southern family, Amanda does not view marriage as a woman's only source of personal satisfaction.
Williams suggests that women in fact should not rely on men, based on the playwright's own experiences with his distant father and his personal tendencies toward fantasy and escapism. Tom, like Tennessee, cannot contend with the responsibilities and pressures placed up on him by traditional family life and the American Dream.

Tom opens his narration by stating honestly, "I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion," (p. 4). Williams' "memory play" serves as a pleasant disguise for the unpleasant truths of his own life. Tennessee Williams, whose nom de plume refers to a core state in the South, comments on the apex and demise of Southern gentile culture in the Glass Menagerie.

The Glass Menagerie is also a feminist play because Amanda remains strong and stalwart in spite of her loss and hardship and because Laura demonstrates potential to change more than Tom does. Williams is not disdainful toward men, though; he is sympathetic. Like his sister and her glass menagerie, Tom is fragile. His grip on reality is nearly as tenuous as Laura's because he escapes from his life by using alcohol and finds solace in fantasy and fiction: books and movies. Through Laura's central transformation, Williams offers a solid message of hope for shifting social norms and values in American culture.

Works Cited

Durham, Frank. "Tennessee Williams, Theatre Poet in Prose." Modern Critical Interpretations: Tennessee William's the Glass Menagerie. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1988. Pp. 59-73.

Falk, Signi. "The Southern Gentlewoman." Modern Critical Interpretations: Tennessee William's the Glass Menagerie. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1988. pp. 79-87.

Watson, Charles S. "The Revision of the Glass Menagerie: The Passing of Good Manners." Modern Critical Interpretations: Tennessee William's the Glass Menagerie. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House,….....

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