The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
The Glass Menagerie written by Tennessee Williams is a play involving four very different characters, all of whom are troubled in their own way. Amanda is a very affectionate mother, however she may be too affectionate, and seems to actually smother her children with her love. Laura is physically crippled, and this causes her to have what the book calls an inferiority complex, causing her to be very shy and withdrawn. The gentleman caller, Jim, is attempting to live up to his old high school standards, which he is finally beginning to realize may not actually be possible. Then there is the narrator, Tom, a dreamer who is caught up in the middle of it all.
I feel Tom is the most complex of these individuals. Though not physically crippled like his sister Laura, Tom finds himself paralyzed in his work, and by his mother. Tom is forced to work in a warehouse where he is faced with bleak aspects, and a day-to-day job in which he believes is a prison he regards the warehouse as a prison that shackles all the basic impulses with which, he believes, men are endowed. Tom even went as far as to say Id rather somebody picked up a crowbar and battered out my brainsthan go back mornings! This is in part due to the fact that Tom is a dreamer, and an idealist. Tom shows this by saying, Man is by instinct a lover, a hunter, a fighter. He loves to write poetry, and desperately wants out of his house, however these dreams are just that dreams, and seem far from reality. His mother is suffocating Tom by constantly telling him what to do, and when and how to do it. Tom has secretly enlisted in the Merchant Marines to get away from it all.
Even more stifling to his poetic creativity is his home where Amanda, prompted by her motherly concern and her fear for the familys sole source of income, is the major obstacle to Toms life. Home is made more like a cage, and often seems to be as burdensome as the warehouse due to Amandas rigorous parental control and over-protectiveness. For example, during meals, she will make him listen to long sermons: Honey, dont push with your fingers. If you have to push with something and she is also constantly complaining that Tom smokes too much. Unable to put up with his mothers failure to understand his needs and desires, and her confining affection, Tom ends up turning to movies, where he feels at ease. These movies and magic shows, give Tom a sense of adventure, and give him deception of everyday life. These places allow Tom to forget all of his troubles at home.
Tom is the most important character in this play. He allows to audience to see the extreme conflicts that are constantly occurring at the Wingfield household, and brings out shows us the real attitude of his mother, Amanda. Although we are not supposed to view Tom as a sympathetic individual, I feel we are supposed to feel sympathetic towards him. He is the sole provider for the family, and he is trapped not only by his work, but by his family as well. This suffocating confinement leads to Tom losing his job, and ultimately leading to his departure from his house.