The Glass Menagerie – Tennessee Williams

Published March 31, 2013 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Abandoned by her husband, Amanda Wingfield comforts herself with recollections of her earlier, more gracious life in Blue Mountain when she was pursued by “gentleman callers.” Her son Tom, a poet with a job in a warehouse, longs for adventure and escape from his mother’s suffocating embrace, while Laura, her shy crippled daughter, has her glass menagerie and her memories. Amanda is desperate to find her daughter a husband, but when the long-awaited gentleman caller does arrive, Laura’s romantic illusions are crushed.

What did I think?:

I’ve only ever read one other play by Tennessee Williams – A Streetcar Named Desire, which I studied for A Level English Literature and absolutely loved. I’ve been meaning to get round to his other works, and I’m very glad to have read this one. Apparently, the character of Laura was loosely based on his sister Rose who had recently undergone a pre-frontal lobotomy and it was Williams’ way of coming to terms with his sister’s illness and underlying guilt over “not doing more” to help her. Laura is definitely a very fragile individual, her glass menagerie is part escapism, part coping strategy for dealing with her life. Her mother, Amanda has quite obviously not given her the tools to manage her world, and veers towards the extreme end of over-protectiveness.

Amanda reminded me a lot of the infamous Blanche DuBois (from Streetcar) with her paranoid monologues/ramblings and passionate little flurries about her gentlemen callers. As this is only the second work of Williams that I have read, I wonder if he has ever written a stronger. less vulnerable female character? Despite this, the characters of Amanda and Laura make for compulsive reading, and I was sorry the play had to end as there seemed to be much more that could be squeezed out of them. I was also incredibly curious about Tom, our narrator and son of Amanda. One of my favourite parts was the argument between mother and son – I loved the bitterness and frustration that came across from both sides and thought the author captured the emotions beautifully on the page. Really looking forward to my next foray into Williams’ work – maybe Cat on a Hot Tin Roof next?

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

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