Though Tom narrates The Glass Menagerie and his sister Laura is symbolically the actual glass menagerie, the play belongs to neither of them. The play belongs to their mother, Amanda, as substantiated by the above quote from Joseph K. Davis. Amanda indulges herself in memories of the past and refuses to accept the present. The play is also hers because it is her “tragedy”. It is about how she behaves after her husband leaves her and her reaction when her son shows signs of doing the same. She also controls the two conflicts of the play, as well as the glass menagerie represents her fragile world of illusions and memories of the past.
Amanda’s control over the two conflicts of the play exists in the fact that she creates them. She supplies the conflict between herself and Tom as well as provides the conflict of having Laura marry. In the case of Tom she constantly nags him and questions where is he Is going and then openly states her doubts of his truthfulness. Her nagging starts in the beginning of the play in her conversation with Tom, in which she tells him how to eat his food. Later she tells him how costliness of his smoking habit, ” You smoke too much. A pack a day at fifteen cents a pack.
How much would that amount to in a month? “. Later in the play she also manages to comment on Tom’s appearance and how she wished he would take better care of himself in that respect. She also accuses Tom of lying about where he is going at night. When he says that he is at the movies she states that he could not possibly be going to the movies every night, ” Nobody goes to the movies as often as pretend to. ” She also calls him selfish, ” Self, self, self is all that you ever think of! As for his sister, the conflict surrounding her marriage is constant.
Amanda does not want Laura to become an old maid, and attempts to send Laura to a local business school to receive training as a secretary in hopes that Laura will attract men. When Amanda discovers that Laura has stopped attending school she is flabbergasted, more because Laura did not tell her. Amanda finds out when she goes to the school to collect make-up work for Laura because she was out sick for a few days. Amanda is also angry because she does not want Laura to be unmarried, ” I know so well what becomes of unmarried women who aren’t prepared to occupy a position.
I’ve such pitiful cases in the South-barely tolerated spinsters … eating the crust of humanity all their life. ” To fix the situation, Amanda asks Tom to go and find a man from work to date Laura. Amanda also starts to sale magazine subscriptions to receive some more money to make the apartment a little more showy and to also inquire about suitable bachelors. Both of the conflicts are resolved more or less in one incident, Jim’s Announcement of his engagement. The incident resolves the conflict with Tom because after Amanda finds out that Jim is engaged, she begins to accuse Tom of lying to her about not knowing of Jim’s engagement.
She also manages to throw in a nice jab about his accused selfishness, ” Don’ t let anything Interfere with your selfish pleasure! Just go, go, go- to the movies”. This is the last straw for Tom and he leaves. Well, actually he leaves comes back, and then joins the Merchant Marines after being fired from his job in the warehouse. This announcement resolves the conflict surrounding Laura’s marriage because it ends the attempt to have her marry Jim. Not to say that this event stops any future attempts, but it does stop the one in the play. Both outcomes are tied directly to Amanda because she bring them about.
She is the one who wanted a suitor for Laura, so it is partially her fault that the event happens. As for Tom, she is the one who accuses him and pushes right out of her world, because he eventually just walks down the fire escape never to return. And as Tom leaves down the fire escape he has literally left Amanda but he has also symbolically escaped her world of illusion. He does this because the fire escape is the symbol for escape in the play. This is substantiated by the fact that Tom can walk up and down the steps of the fire escape, but the only time Laura is seen leaving through the fire escape, she slips and falls.
That symbolizes her inability to leave the world of illusion, because at the end of the play she is still with Amanda in the world of illusion and Tom is not. Amanda creates the world of illusion that Tom escapes by living in a memory of the past. She continually remembers her youth and her many suitors. As well as, remembering her husband who left her and he children sixteen years ago. She keeps a large picture of him hanging dead center in her living room, suggesting that her is the center of her world even though he left years ago.
The picture also severs to remind her of the tragedy she suffered. She then uses the painfully memory of her husband’s desertion to ensure that Laura does not do the same. This again relates back to the “tragedy” she lives in because of her refusal to refusal to live in the present. On top of creating a world of based in the past, she also creates one similar to the glass menagerie in which things are delicate and for show only. She does this by changing the appearance of things to make them more appealing to the perspective suitors for Laura.
Amanda not only puts money into altering the apartment but also alters Laura’s appearance to make her more attractive to Jim, again for show only. Amanda then extends this illusion into making Laura like one of the glass animals for the menagerie. She refuses to allow Laura to do anything that may cause her to not remain beautiful for her prospective suitors, ” I want you fresh and pretty -for gentlemen callers. ”
The only problem is there are no suitors. She refuses to accept the fact that her shy and slightly crippled daughter is not as sought after as Amada was when she was young and living in the South. Your mother received-seventeen! – gentlemen callers! “, or so Amanda keeps claiming, though she lives so far from reality that she cannot see through the illusions she has created. In fact, she accuses Tom of being the one that creates the illusions. In the midst of her shouting at Tom, she says “You live in a dream; you manufacture illusions. ” This is of course ironic as she is the one who is not only stuck in illusions of the past but she is also oblivious to the reality in front of her. Her reality denial spills over into her dialogue, which furthers her delusions of the past.
She speaks very politely and energetically as she did as a Southern Belle. ” Gracious, you talk as though all of my old admirers had turned up their toes to the daises! ” is one such example. She could have said that her old admirers had died or past on, but she said “turned their toes up to the daises”. The unfortunate thing is that she is no longer a Southern Belle just standing around waiting for rich men to come by and propose. By her speaking like a Southern Belle, she is connected her to the world she creates of illusions and the one for show.
The connections are achieved by the fact that in the past she was Southern Belle with many rich suitors vying for her hand in marriage. This is also an illusion because she is no longer a Southern Belle but tries to maintain that front. It is also this connection to her illusions of the past that combines the proof that this is her play. She is the one who creates the world she lives in to protect herself from the tragedy of her husband leaving her. She is also the one who causes the conflict of the play out of her illusions of the past and therefore she is the person who dramatizes the tragedy of not living honestly and fully in the present.