The Glass Menagerie is a tragedy by American playwright Tennessee Williams. In the play there is a scene which involves intense emotion, the intensity is shown through the dramatist’s use of techniques such as characterisation, stage direction/lighting, theme and dialogue. In Scene 3 intense emotion is displayed through a heated argument between Tom Wingfield and his mother Amanda. Amanda is a domineering character how clearly does not appreciate the sacrifices her son has made to provide for his family. It is evident that Tom loves his family but feels trapped and he cannot fulfil his dreams.
This key scene highlights the deep conflict within the family and how it has a negative impact. It is evident that a lack of communication between Tom and Amanda leads to an increasing tension between mother and son. Williams’ use of dialogue emphasises the intense emotion in this scene and this emotion is highlighted in veing important to the drama as a whole. Amanda returns Tom’s D. H Lawrence book due to the factor that she perceives the author to being insane and accuses Lawrence of polluting the minds of young people.
The fact that Amanda returned the book emphasises Amanda’s controlling ways and this also highlights how Amanda forces her moral values upon her children. This leads to a clash of ideas and Tom’s anger is increased when she calls the works of a writer he respects as “filth”, Tom is angry that his mother keeps telling him what to do and does not allow him the freedom to live his own life. Through the Williams’ use of dashes shows that both character are interrupting each other and the use of exclamation marks suggests that they are not listening to each other.
This clash of ideas and values as well as a lack of communication between Tom and Amanda ultimately drives Tom away and abandon his family. Tom proclaims his importance to the household however, Amanda refuses to acknowledge the sacrifices Tom has made to provide for his family and his infuriates Tom and further increases the tension. Tennessee William’s use of lighting emphasises the intense emotion in this scene. The lighting reflects the intense emotion: “turgid smoky red glow” “their gesticulating shadows are cast on the ceiling by the fiery glow ” Red” and “fiery” suggest anger, anger which Tom feels towards his mother.
The same way shadows make something bigger, Tom’s anger towards his mother is magnified and this is highlighted through the dramatist’s use of “gesticulating shadows”. Amanda is concerned that Tom’s bad attitude towards work will threaten the family’s security. Due to her concern Amanda imposes more demands of Tom: “What right have you got to jeopardize your job? Jeopardize the security of all of us? ” Amanda puts the family’s needs before Tom’s own needs, this leads to Amanda always telling Tom how to live his life.
Due to the responsibility entrusted upon him as well as the guilt he feels he is forced to abandon his on dreams for the sake of his family and he is unable to escape. He feels trapped. It is evident that the always increasing tension in the house has a negative impact on Laura. Through the use lighting the dramatist shows Laura’s emotional vulnerability: “Clear pool of light on her figure” Even though Laura virtually plays no part in this scene, the dramatist uses lighting to show that this constant clash of ideas between mother and son is affecting her deeply.
It is ironic that even though both Tom and Amanda are so protective of Laura they are both oblivious to the fact that they are actually casing her harm by constantly arguing. Furthermore, Tom intensifies the situation further makes a list of all the things he supposedly does whilst he is supposed to be that the movies, this further aggravated Amanda. The scene reaches an intense climax: “a babbling old witch” In anger, Tom attempts to leave the apartment but he struggles put his coat on.
Out of frustration, Tom throws the coat and in the process knocks over one of Laura’s glass ornaments and smashes it and Laura cries out “as if wounded” herself . Putting on the coat is symbolic of Tom’s needs for escape – one of the plays major themes, however he struggles with putting it on and this highlights the difficulty Tom will have leaving the responsibilities he has with his family. The intense tension in this scene is linked with key events in other scenes. It is evident that Amanda is a loving and caring mother, however, despite these good qualities it is clear that Amanda does not truly understand her children.
Laura angers her mother: “You did all this deceive me, just for deception? ” Laura has not been attending Business school and Amanda accuses Laura of just her need to defy her mother. Amanda is unable to identify the true reason for Laura’s lack of attendance which is due to her shyness but Laura is not able to confide in her mother because she is so afraid of disappointing her. There is a link between Laura’s truancy and the concern that Amanda has on Tom losing his job. Amanda insists that Laura should try to find a “gentleman caller” to marry so she does not become old and lonely.