conversely, nothing to be brushed lightly aside either. Amanda’s inability to accept this fact creates a tension between not only Amanda and her daughter, but Tom as well – who feels he has to protect Laura from her mother’s “ambitions” for her. It is important to realise that Amanda does know her daughter is crippled, but just cannot accept the fact that this disability could have a very real negative effect on her daughter’s life. At the end of Scene 2, Amanda sums up her feelings towards Laura’s problem when she says “Nonsense! Laura, I’ve told you never, never to use that word. Why, you’re not crippled, you just have a little defect – hardly noticeable even!” Here we can see that Amanda is convincing herself that all she is really doing is being supportive to her daughter, trying to make Laura feel better – but in reality, she is unable to face the fact that her daughter isn’t as physically attractive as Amanda was at the same age. This all comes down to one of the underlying themes of the play – a mother trying to live her life once more through her daughter – and Amanda must eventually come to realise that Laura is a completely different person.An important part of this scene is that, through the screenplay between Amanda and Laura, we see that these two characters are very different – there is a total contrast between mother and daughter. This is a common trick of playwrights, although usually the main characters aren’t contrasted quite so obviously – in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the characters Benvolio and Tybalt were contrasted excellently, one a natural peacemaker and the other a warmonger. Here, Amanda is dramatic, determined, dominant and self-assured – on the outside at least – whilst Laura is shy, quiet, insecure and nervous. Laura seems afraid to become involved in real-life situations, and is much more at home with her glass menagerie and music. Amanda appears to lead a busy life, which some might think she is happy with – but she is actually living a shadow of her former existence. She came from a rich and successful family, and now lives in a “vast hive-like cellular living unit” as Williams describes her building. She is constantly living in the past and referring to her suitors, tangled up in the biggest mistake – as she sees it – that she ever made, which was to marry Tom and Laura’s father. With little left of her former “glory”, Amanda is desperate for her daughter to make the right choice this time, to escape the trap she found herself in. This is why she refuses to accept that her daughter has a defect, she sees Laura as her last chance at success. This is perhaps best shown in the passage beginning “So what are we going to do with the rest of our lives?” Throughout this passage, Amanda refers to “we” instead of you – here she really is showing her true colours, that she can only live her life fully if Laura is successful.Williams doesn’t just use the language of his characters to attain his goals, however. He pays very careful attention to the stage directions – one might be forgiven for thinking this was written as a film, instead of a play, as the amount of detail in these stage directions is quite unusual for a play. Inside the stage directions are hidden other clues to the situation between mother and daughter, such as “she crosses to the victrola and winds it up” which accentuates Laura’s quiet, withdrawn nature – for her, even more so than many people, music is a means of escape. Perhaps the most important stage directions are at the beginning of the scene, however. These are even more detailed, lasting for over half a page, and set the scene for the ensuing confrontation between Amanda and Laura. In these stage directions, we are given a big clue as to what is about to happen – “Something has happened to Amanda. It is written in her face as she climbs to the landing: a look that is grim and hopeless and a little absurd” – here we can guess what is about to happen, and the description of Laura “She is washing and polishing her collection of glass” gives the impression of an almost too-tranquil moment, which is surely about to be shattered.Williams’ use of the set, props and clothes are very important in determining the relationship between and Amanda and Laura in this scene as well – as already mentioned, the glass menagerie are vital to create a tranquil scene, but also to accentuate Laura’s innocent, artistic nature. Other props include Amanda’s white handkerchief, which hints of Amanda’s upbringing and delicate refinement, and the victriola, which again shows Laura’s quiet and nervous side. The clothes are also essential, the coat Amanda is wearing is described as one of the “cheap imitation velvety-looking cloth coats with imitation fur collar” and “her hat is five or six years old” – both descriptions give us the impression of Amanda’s former glory now lost, the family are now quite poor – we begin to realise just how far Amanda must have fallen. The set helps a lot, in that Amanda approaches Laura who is sitting down – this gives Amanda more of an imposing demeanour, further accentuating the contrast between mother and daughter.In conclusion, I believe this scene is vital for establishing the relationship between Amanda and Laura. It offers great insight into their lives and situation, and sets the scene for the argument between Tom (who feels he has to defend his sister) and his mother in scene 3. Williams uses all the tools available to him as a playwright to good effect, and the result is that by the end of the scene, we get a very good idea of how the play will end.