In both The Glass Menagerie and The Death of a Salesman there are startling similarities and differences. After reading and analyzing both plays, these aspects become evident. We see these differences in their styles, acts, scenes, characters, endings and uses of symbolism.
The two authors are very similar. I believe that the two combined many autobiographical tidbits hidden within the plays. For example, I do not believe that is was by mere coincidence that the main character of The Glass Menagerie, Thomas Wingfield, had the same initials of its playwright, Thomas ?Tennessee? Williams. Another autobiographical aspect is that of using the idea of a crippled little sister and an ex-southern belle for the other two main characters. These characters and their distinct characteristics held true to Tennessee Williams’ own life. The character Willy Loman also depicts autobiographical parts of the life of Arthur Miller. It wasn’t as blatantly obvious, but the character Willy Loman felt he was inadequate and his life was wasted, just as Miller did at this point in his life. The weak father-son relationship was also an aspect of Miller’s life, which he illustrates through Biff and Willy. Both of the playwrights ended the plays leaving the audience in awe, and thinking, ?it ends like that!?? I believe that the primary reason these authors are so highly regarded is because they broke away from the idea of a ?fairy-tale? ending. In their own way both endings are happy, even though Willy Loman dies and Laura Wingfield is left without a gentleman caller. Willy Loman is finally released from his burden and can stop selling himself. Tom realizes his love for his sister and that he will never forget Laura. Both of the plays reflect the time they were written in, and therefore have many similarities.
The plays also have many contrasting points. Miller uses the idea of more scenery changes then Willaims does. The Glass Menagerie takes place in one main spot and never leaves the Wingfield house. Therefore, the play has only one act with seven different scenes. The Death of a Salesman flashes between the present and the past and moves to different places (i.e. the office, the restaurant) therefore, meriting more divisions or scenes. The play Willaims wrote includes more fantasy and imagination. He uses the analogy of Laura as being a glass fragile creature and living in a world apart from others. Willy, besides his babbling, is chucked into a world of reality for which he is not prepared. The use of music in The Glass Menagerie after every scene sets the scene and foreshadows what is to be, whereas The Death of a Salesman, jumps into the action with no knowledge of what is to be. The Death of a Salesman uses many more characters then The Glass Menagerie. Both techniques are successful in telling the stories. We get to know the characters equally well and therefore this doesn’t become a huge factor. Both are classics, and yet, both are incredibly different.
These two plays written by playwrights during the same period of American Literature display remarkable similarities and differences. They display these through their styles, lengths of the works, characters, endings and uses of symbolism. They exhibit both the clich?s and controversial material that make them timeless classics.