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Main Themes in The Glass Menagerie

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Main Themes in The Glass Menagerie Tenesse Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" is a play presenting a story of the Wingfield family and their struggles. Set in St. Louis during the Great Depression, the play revolves around Amanda and her adult children, Tom and Laura, struggling to make ends meet in a St. Louis apartment. Numerous themes are incorporated in this play, and amongst the more prominent themes are those of individuals trapped by circumstances and struggling between illusions and reality, impossibility of true escape, and loneliness of humans. These themes are clearly portrayed through the characters of the play, each lonely, struggling to survive, to escape reality through illusions. Perhaps the most dominant theme in "The Glass Menagerie" is that of human failure, the frustration of individuals trapped by circumstances. All the characters in the play are palpably doomed from the very start, unable to ever have a truly happy life in this harsh world. They all struggle to survive in a world that gives them no reason to exist, and though their attempts will allow them to survive for a time, they will never truly triumph. ...read more.


As previously mentioned, Amanda clings to her past as a Southern Belle, and her illusionary world is the world of her youth when she lived a carefree life as a girl. She attempts to restore her Southern aristocracy by retaining her style of conversations, mannerisms and appearances, also trying to relive it through Laura, by getting her "to stay fresh and pretty- for gentlemen callers" and refusing to admit that Laura's crippled and weird in the eyes of others, insisting "Don't say crippled!...Don't say weird!", choosing instead to believe that when te gentleman caller will fall for Laura when he "sees how lovely and sweet and pretty she is". Meanwhile, Laura retreats to her 'glass menagerie', her beautiful yet fragile world of little glass animals. In this world, the special glass unicorn "gets along nicely" with the other normal horses, in contrast to Laura's social isolation due to her 'weirdness'. Tom escapes to his world of movies and the bars to escape from his daily life of a nagging mother and a boring job at a shoe factory, and Jim, the supposed "emissary from a world of reality", ...read more.


Being a poet, he is trapped in his own world and is unable to communicate with even his family, let alone establish any worthwhile relationships with his co-workers. His loneliness increases when he discovers the world outside is no more understanding towards him than the world within his family. As for Laura, she has never been able to successfully communicate with anyone due to her introverted nature and inferiority complex, admitting "I - never had much luck at - making friends"; hence loneliness is more natural to her. Her thwarted chance at happiness with Jim as well as Tom's abandonment gives her only deeper loneliness. In a way, Williams is trying to convey that humans are all essentially alone. Hence, the themes of individuals trapped under circumstances, the use of illusions to combat reality, as well as the inevitable loneliness of humans, are clearly presented in Tenesse Williams' "The Glass Menagerie". These themes are prevalent in the plight of the characters, palpable in their tragedies, individual worlds of illusions, and their loneliness due to inability to communicate with each other. Hence the combination of these results in a delicate and meaningful play, an expert yet sympathetic observation of human nature. ...read more.

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