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The Glass Menagerie is described by its author as "a memory play" Discuss this view up to the arrival of the gentleman caller.

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Introduction

The Glass Menagerie is described by its author as "a memory play." Discuss this view up to the arrival of the gentleman caller. At the very beginning of The Glass Menagerie, the audience is immediately introduced to Tom as the narrator and how it is a memory play. Yes, I have tricks in my pocket; I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion. What is very unique about The Glass Menagerie is that the narrator (Tom) is also a character in the play and the playwright's voice. This emphasizes the fact that it is a memory play, because it is these very events that are memories and recollections of Williams. In his production notes, he talks of using stage to arrive at a "penetrating and vivid expression of things as they are" or things that he remembers of his past. Unlike a lot of traditional playwrights, Tennessee Williams is extremely specific in his stage directions, especially at the very beginning of the play. The scene is memory and is therefore non-realistic. Memory takes a lot of poetic licence. It omits and details; others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominantly in the heart. ...read more.

Middle

On the whole, Tom is basically a character that is on the outside looking in, especially when he changes into the role of the narrator. The whole play is of his memories, but he isn't the only one with haunting memories in the play. Amanda (Tom's mother) also relates to her memories, but there is an extreme difference between them. In a way Tom can be seen as a dogmatic figure. Everything that occurs in the play is Tom's memory, which indicated that everything that is happening is under his control, sort of like a dream, giving his character an almost God-like position. In the play, Amanda's constantly speaks of her past to Tom and Laura, relating everything in the present to her past in the South. Also, it can also be seen that the events that are occurring in the play are of Tom's past and he is looking back on them. Therefore, in other words, Tom as the narrator is in the present and when he is his character in the play, he is recalling on the past. In regards to Amanda, memory is a negative force that prevents her from finding happiness in the present. Her bygone past has shaped her values. She has not adjusted these old values to present realities. Amanda came from a predominant Southern family and has received a traditional upbringing. ...read more.

Conclusion

When Tom takes on the role of the narrator it confirms the uncontrollable power of his own memories. The other characters are also unable and, can be argued, unwilling to forget the past. Amanda lives her memories fighting to reconstruct them in the present and Laura is attached to objects, like her menagerie and the victrola, which implies memories are her only comfort. Therefore, it can be argued that the characters in The Glass Menagerie use memory to escape their present struggles that they face everyday, in other words, it is their survival in the harsh world. Tennessee Williams portrayal of memory in his play The Glass Menagerie indicated that it is something almost impossible to resist. Because of this, critics have often criticized the play of being too sentimental, but perhaps we shouldn't try too hard to escape the clutches that memory brings. "The heart is a nostalgic organ, and sentimentality is what makes us human, and most importantly, humane." In this memory play the "trick", which all the characters do not manage to succeed in is to find a way of living the present while accommodating the past. After Williams wrote this play, the characters in his other plays had this exact trait and, in a way, makes them more vulnerable characters, but perhaps their fragility makes them more appealing and easier to relate to. Daniela Germano Year 13- English Literature 30/12/03 ...read more.

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