- Slides: 13
1. Amanda Wingfield Amanda is the mother of Tom and Laura. She has difficulty facing reality, though by the end of the play she does acknowledge Tom’s desire to leave and Laura’s uncertain future. She frequently fantasizes about the past, probably exaggerating her own popularity then. Her relationship with Tom is conflicted, most prominently when she criticizes his minor habits. 2. Laura Wingfield Laura is the daughter of Amanda and sister of Tom. She is extremely shy, even emotionally disturbed, and she wears a brace on her leg which makes her feel conspicuous. Her collection of glass animals gives the play its title. She does not work, and she has been unable to complete a typing class because of her nervousness. Although she says she had once liked a boy in high school, she has never had and is unlikely to have any kind of romantic relationship.
3. Tom Wingfield Amanda’s son and Laura’s brother, Tom is the protagonist of the play. He dreams of abandoning the family, as his father had done. He feels trapped in his job, where he often neglects his duties in order to write poetry, and in his home, where he is reprimanded for reading some modern literature which was considered Scandalous at the time. Although he claims to go to the movies every night, he also probably goes to a bar, since he sometimes comes home drunk. Eventually, he agrees to bring a “gentleman caller” home to meet Laura, but he leaves the family that night. Although Tom appears to genuinely care Who are for Laura, his greater desire is to relieve his frustration at his confining situation. When he functions as narrator at a time several years after the action of the play, readers understand that he has escaped physically but not emotionally.
4. Jim O’Connor Jim is the gentleman caller Tom invites home for dinner. Although he also works at the warehouse, he makes more money than Tom and has greater aspirations even if they are somewhat conventional ones. Yet, his situation reveals that dreams are often not achieved, for in high school Jim had been predicted to become very successful. He treats Laura kindly, but during their conversation he reveals that he too is not Who are entirely realistic, for he discounts the severity of Laura’s problem and assures her that all she needs is more confidence.
Major Themes I. Freedom & Confinement 1. Tom : being stuck in an uninspiring job, cramped into a small apartment with his family, and unable to see the world or have adventures. 2. Amanda : confined to her thoughts of the past symbolized as “Blue Mountain” 3. Laura : traps herself in a world of glass animals. 4. Escape : means two things here 1) escape from reality into an alternate world 2) escape from a trap or confinement. -> this play hints at the moral ramifications of some kinds of escape, asking the question of who is left behind and what happens to them when you leave.
II. Family & Duty 1. Duty and Responsibility from family : the conflict between one’s obligations and one’s real desires, suggesting that being true to one may necessitate abandonment of the other. Duties are gender specific, and arise largely from the expectations of societal norms. 2. Obligations 1) Questions of duty and responsibility to one’s other family members 2) Gender specific roles of family members a. the male - to bring home money b. the daughter - to look pretty and get married. -> this features the notion of abandonment 3. the notion of children taking after their parents 1) Tom leaves the family just as his father did 2) Amanda wishes her daughter were as popular as she used to be. 4. the relationship between sister and brother Tom feels both protective and later guilty with regards to his sister Laura.
III. Memory, Past & Dream 1. Memory & Past 1) Thematically, memory in the form of Amanda’s living in the past. 2) The story itself is the memory of Tom, the narrator 3) In memory a. the events are selective b. that events are remembered with music, with peculiar lighting. c. that reality is altered and edited and made presentable in certain ways. 2. Dream 1) In this play, dreams of the future are the source of conflict 2) Amanda : wants her children to fulfill the classic American Dream of hard work and success 3) Tom : wants to be a writer 4) Laura : wants to establish with marriage -> parents imposing their dreams on their children, rather than allowing them to figure out themselves just what it is that they want.
IV. Marriage & Love 1. Marriage : a tool rather than a celebration of love 1) Amanda : believes marriage is a necessary step for her daughter to live comfortably, to be supported by a man. 2) Question : what is the lasting nature of marriage? the marriage of Amanda vs. her missing husband abandoning her. 2. Love is tricky 1) Love-like scene of Laura and Jim vs. Love of Jim for Betty mutual understanding of each other’s individuality and uniqueness vs. ‘getting along fine’ 2) Amanda’s confession vs. her husband having abandoned her 3. The issue of familial love 1) the anger and frustration of family members vs. innate love for them 2) esp. the nature of love between brother and sister, who support each other
V. Deception, Lies & Weakness 1. Amanda 1) retreats from reality by denial and deliberately deluding herself as to the true nature of things. 2) refuses to see that her daughter is crippled or her son a writer who likes to drink 3) sees only the good qualities in their children. 4) thinks of herself as the pretty Southern Belle 2. Weakness linked to fragility meaning both beauty and breakability 1) Laura’s shyness and fragility a. keep her in her own little world of equally fragile glass animals b. infuse her with a mysterious individuality c. gives her the nickname "Blue Roses" and incredibly attractive for Jim 3. Fragility means dependence 1) Laura needs Tom precisely because of her shy and delicate demeanor. 2) the relationship between physical and mental fragility -> Laura’s shyness arising from a physical defect
VI. Gender Roles 1. Gender roles in dictating the future plans of each character 1) Laura must get married because she is a girl 2) Tom should take business classes because he is a man. 2. Gender roles seem to arise from tradition ex) Amanda discusses what women should do and what men should do according to her Southern upbringing. 3. Gender roles as dictating values ex) great importance on Laura’s attitude staying ‘fresh and pretty’ vs. ‘character’ is the most important thing for a man.