Create a 5 page essay paper that discusses The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams.
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The men were at liberty to actualize themselves, but the women were not. The play is said to typify pre-World War II America, but more women remained in the workforce after the war.
Williams is said to be making a commentary on Western culture by dramatizing his belief that men and women find reality and meaning in life through satisfactory sexual relationships. The main focus of both Amanda and Laura is to find that a mate who will rescue them. The difficult task is put on the shoulders of Tom. Amanda constantly nags Laura to stay pretty for her gentlemen callers for without them she will not be able to escape her current situation.
The glass menagerie refers to feminine qualities of fragility and delicacy, flawless beauty and grace. Such qualities are found in Laura. The unicorn as a symbol signifies chastity and purity, and even devotion – characteristics that are also shared by Laura.
Constraints on what a woman can and can’t do. There are a lot that a woman can’t do on the basis of her gender. The setting of the story was in St. Louis during the Depression era. Given the circumstances, it was difficult to be just a woman. At times like this where employment would be streamlined, being a woman would take second place. This has important implications for earning a living. Without a man in the house to earn, life would be hard. This was very visible in the case of Amanda who would hold on to his son, Tom, by all means, when her husband left their home. With the limping Laura to take care of besides, Amanda needed Tom to take care of them. Gender, therefore, limits a woman’s capability, but more importantly, the absence of a husband. Amanda burdened Tom with a husbands’ responsibility of supporting them. In the case of Laura, if she could have a husband, too, then she may lead a more normal life and would not depend on her brother, Tom.
It was difficult for a mother then, like Amanda, not to be scheming for the future of her daughter, Laura. If she had no husband to take care of her, she would be stuck to her mother who also had no means of income. First, she had asked Tom to look for a husband material for Laura. Then she set up Laura as presentable to the man caller, Jim. Next, she brought Tom with her and intentionally left Laura with the man. Since the man did not give any hope of visiting again, that was the end of the attempt for a husband- hunt. While she can be beautiful and comely, a woman cannot do anything if the man does not favor the interest.
Women’s possible sources of power. These may be youth and beauty as exemplified in Amanda’s frequent gentleman callers as she reminisces about her times living in the South. Being an authority figure is also a source of power. Amanda as a mother was domineering over her children. Her being domineering has also led her to notice more her children’s weaknesses rather than their strong points. She also constantly downplayed her children about what they had become. “Sounds to me like a fairly responsible job you would be in if you just had more get-up.” (Act 1, Scene V, pg. 54.)
One of Amanda’s weak points as an authority figure is in making decisions for her children’s life.