The Glass Menagerie | Summary of The Glass Menagerie - Plot - Characters

    The Glass Menagerie was originally produced in Chicago in 1944 and then staged in New work on Broadway in 1945 . The text was also published in 1945.The Glass Menagerie is autobiographical in its sources. In some days , this is a coming of age story, with both Tom Wingfield and Laura Wingfield negotiating their roles as young adults. Like many coming of age stories, the major conflicts in this play are both internal and external.

About the author of The Glass Menagerie

    The Glass Menagerie was originally produced in Chicago in 1944 and then staged in New York on Broadway in 1945. The text was also published in 1945 written by Tennessee Williams who was born in Mississippi in 1911.His family lived in Mississippi and Tennessee until 1918 , when they moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where William's father Cornelius, work as a shoe salesman. This move to a a Metropolitan area was difficult for or both Williams and his sister Rose. 

    William's family was Episcopalian and his grandfather a minister. Although William's himself converted to Roman Catholicism in 1969. As an adult, he moved frequently living in such cities as St. Louis and New York. Many critics base their interpretation of the Glass Menagerie as autobiographical in part because of the similarities between the Tomorrow Wingfield family and William's own. William's mother Edwina was a southern belle  and his older sister Rose, to whom William's was close, suffered from schizophrenia as an adult.

The Glass Menagerie
The Glass Menagerie

    William's attended the university of Missouri from 1931 until 1933 and Washington University in St. Louis from 1936 until 1937 before earning his A. B. Degree from the University of Iowa in 1938.

    Williams Tennessee began publishing his work Magazines when  he was only twelve years old and decided to become a playwright at the age of twenty, although he also wrote short stories, poems, novels and memories. As a young man, he supported himself with various jobs, including waiter, teletype oparator and theatre. 

    After the Glass Menagerie was produced On Broadway in 1945 , however Williams consistently had his new work produced in various New York theaters, often overaging one play every other year. He was not only prolific but also successful. His plays won many honours, beginning with the group theatre award in 1939.

   Williams 's most popular plays were also produced as movies and he frequently seved as served as screenwriter, sometimes with a collaborator. 

    Tennessee Williams died by choking in a hotel in New York City in 1983.

Characters of The Glass Menagerie

    In this play we see mainly four characters. This all characters are equally important, here we discuss about  all the characters in brief. 

Jim O' Connor 

    Jim is the gentlemen caller Tom invites home for dinner. Although he also works at the warehouse, he makes more money than Tom and has greater aspiration- even if they are somewhat conventional ones. 

    Yet his situation reveals that dreams are often  not achieved, for in high school Jim had been predicted to become very successful. He treats Laura kindly, but during their conversation he reveals that he too is not entirely realistic, for he discounts the severity of Laura's problem and assures her that all she needs is more confidence. 

Amanda Wingfield

    Amanda is the mother of Tom and Laura. She has difficulty facing reality, though by the end of the play she does acknowledge Tom's desire to leave and Laura's uncertain future. She frequently fantacizes  about the past, probably exaggerating her own popularity then. 

    Her relationship with Tom is conflicted, most prominently when she criticizes his minor habits. 

Laura Wingfield

    Laura is the daughter of Amanda and sister of Tom. She is extremely shy, even emotionally disturbed, and she wears a brace on her leg which makes her feel conspicuous. Her collection of glass animals gives the play it's title. She does not work, and she has been unable to complete a typing class because of her nervousness. 

    Although she says she had once liked a boy in high school, she has never had and is unlikely to have any kind of romantic relationship. 


Tom Wingfield

    Amanda's son and Laura 's brother, Tom is the protagonist of the play. 

    He dreams of abandoning the family, as his father had done. He feels trapped in his job, where he often neglects his duties in order to write poetry, and in his home, where he is reprimanded for reading some modern literature which was considered scandalous at the time. Although he claims to go to the movies every night, he also probably goes to a bar. 

    Since he sometimes comes home drunk. Eventually he agrees to bring a "gentlemen caller" home to meet Laura but he leaves the family that night. Although Tom appears to genuinely care for Laura, his greater desire is to relieve his frustration at his confining situation. When he functions as narrator at a time several years after the action of the play, readers understand that he had escaped physically but not emotionally. 

About the Text The Glass Menagerie

    The Glass Menagerie was originally produced in Chicago in 1944 and then staged in New work on Broadway in 1945 . The text was also published in 1945.

    The Glass Menagerie is autobiographical in its sources. In some days , this is a coming of age story, with both Tom Wingfield and Laura Wingfield negotiating their roles as young adults. Like many coming of age stories, the major conflicts in this play are both internal and external ,  Tom cannot choose both the future he desires for himself and  the future his mother, Amanda Wingfield desires for him and for Laura. Emerging through this major conflict between Tom and Amanda are the themes of alienation and loneliness, duty and responsibility, and appearances and reality. 

    The Glass Menagerie was the first of Williams 's to win the New York Drama critics circle Award, an honour he was given four times. 

    Although this play was also received much popular acclaim, some critics believe that the thematic devices that Williams relies on, such as the legends on the screen, are too heavy -handed. 

    Though it's poetic structure and reliance on stage technology, The Glass Menagerie has had a significant impact on later twentieth century drama. 

    Tom serves as both narrator and character, dissolving the present into the past ; Williams signals this by exploiting lighting and sound, especially music - technologies which were less available to earlier playwrights. In this sense, the themes of the play are inseparable from its production values.

Plot summery of The Glass Menagerie

Glass Menagerie Scene 1

    The play The Glass Menagerie opens with some fairly elaborate stage directions which serve both to describe the setting and to introduce themes and symbols through their tone. 

    For example, the apartments in the Wingfield 's neighbourhood are described as "Warty growths" and the people as "One interfused mass of automatism" . 

    Tom Wingfield is the first character on stage and he funtions here as both narrator and interpreater. In this role, Tom exists several years after the primary action of the play. He introduces the other characters, and his presence in this role guides the audience in the direction of the play. 

    The action begins with Amanda, Tom's mother, calling him to the supper table. Throughout the meal Amanda instructs and criticizes Tom in his eating habits, until Tom responds with disgust. 

    At once, the audience realizes that Tom and Amanda live in a state of tension. The other characters present at this meal in Laura, Tom's sister, who wears a brace on her leg. When Laura offers to serve the desert, Amanda says that she wishes Laura to "stay fresh and pretty - for gentlemen callers "! 

    Amanda will remain concerned with the possibility of "Gentlemen callers" for Laura throughout the play.  And here she reminisces about her own youthful days. When Laura indicates that she is not expecting any gentlemen callers, Amanda appears to be astonished, although this conversation seems to be a frequent one. 

    Laura explains that "I 'm not popular like you(Amanda)  were"

Glass Menagerie Scene  II

    As this scene begins, Laura is sitting alone in the living room  , washing the animals in her glass collection. Amanda enters, clearly upset. Their conversation reveals that although Laura has been enrolled in a typing course. 

    And although she has left the apartment every day as if to attend her class, she has in fact not been going. Amanda had stopped by to speak with Laura's teacher  who revealed that Laura had become I'll during a typing test and had not returned. Laura admits that she simply goes to the zoo nearly every day. 

    Amanda is concerned about Laura 's future because she has no prospective husband, nor does she have any skills by which she could make a living. Laura says that she had like a boy once while she was in high school, although she is now twenty - three year old. 

    This boy's  name was Jim, and he was very popular then and predicted to be very successful. Jim had called Laura by the nickname "Blue Roses " because he had misunderstood her when she had said she'd been sick with pleurosis. 

 Scene III of Glass Menagerie

    This scene opens with Tom again functioning as narrator and describing the changes that occurred in the family over the next several weeks. Amanda became even more concerned with "Gentlemen callers ". Because she believes that the apartment will have to redecorated if gentlemen callers begin to arrive, she takes a job selling magazine subscription. 

    The major portion of this scene consists of am argument between Tom and Amanda. Amanda thrown away some of Tom's books because they were written by D.H.Lawrence ,  a British writer some people considered scandalous. 

    The argument continues when Tom says he is going out to the movies, although Amanda replies that no one can go to as many movies as Tom claims to. She implies that Tom is lying, especially since he often comes home late and apparently drunk. She is worried that he will lose his job because he so frequently goes to work when he has had only three of four hours of sleep. 

    Amanda urges him to think of the good of the family rather than only himself. Tom replies by emphasizing how much he hates his job and slans out of the apartment after calling Amanda an " Ugly - babbling old - witch ".

Scene - Iv of Glass Menagerie

    Tom arrives home much later. Laura lets him I  , apparently believing that he really has been to the movies. 

    Laura asks Tom to apologize to Amanda at breakfast, which he eventually does. Amanda sends Laura out to buy some butter so that she can have a few words alone with Tom. She explains that she is worried that Tom is becoming like his father, who had abandoned the family. 

    Amanda assures Tom that he will be able to go wherever and do whatever he wants as soon as Laura in secure in  a future. She asks Tom to bring home an acquaintance from the warehouse where he works to meet Laura  though Tom does not respond enthusiastically to the prospect. 

Scene V of Glass Menagerie

      Tom and Amanda argue about whether he smokes too much. Eventually, Tom reveals that he has invited someone home to dinner and that he is coming tomorrow. Amanda pains because of all of the preparations that will have to be made. 

    Tom says that man's name is James Delaney O' Connor and that he works as a shipping clerk, making approximately eight - five dollars per month. 

    Tom urges Amanda not to anticipate too much, since Laura is "crippled", a word she reprimands him for using, and  "peculiar"  . The scene ends with Tom once again leaving for the movies.

Glass Menagerie Scene VI

    The scene begins with Amanda and Laura preparing supper. Laura is extremely nervous and becomes even more upset when she discovers that the visitor's name is Jim O Connor, since that was the name of the boy she liked in high school. Tom and Jim arrive, and Jim discusses his future he hopes for in public speaking. Tom reveals that he has joined the Union of Merchant seaman and has paid his dues with the money he was supposed to use the electric bill. Amanda enters wearing an old dress from her youth and acting extremely coy. 

    Amanda claims that Laura has prepared the supper, but when it is time to eat, Laura is so nervous that she becomes I'll. She rests on the sofa throughout dinner.

Glass Menagerie Scene VII

    As Tom, Amanda and Jim are eating, the lights go out. Amanda assumes they have blown a fuse, though Jim says none of the fuses look faulty. Amanda urges Jim to keep Laura company in the living room. 

    Laura reveals that she had known Jim in high school, and he eventually remembers who she is. She says that she had always felt conspicuous because of her brace, but Jim assures her that it was hardly noticeable. Laura has kept a program from a play Jim had starred in and he autographs it for her. 

    He reveals that he broke up with his high school girlfriend  . When he asks Laura what she has done since high school, she states that her glass collection keeps her very busy. 

    Jim suggests that he simply needs more self confidence and begins talking about inferiority complexs. Laura shows him her favourites glass animals, a unicorn. Because music is audible from the dance hall across the alley,   Jim asks Laura to dance, they bump the table ; the unicorns falls off and breaks his horn, though Laura says now he ' s like other horses rather than being "feakish"

    Telling Laura that she is pretty, Jim kisses that he is engaged and he hadn't realized Tom had invited him home in order to meet Laura. 

    She gives him the broken unicorn . Amanda serves lemonade and Jim tells her also that he is engaged. Embarrassed Amanda assumes that Tom had been playing a mean - spirited joke on them. Tom leaves again though this time his departure is permanent. 

    The play concludes with Laura blowing out the candles. 

Critical approach of The Glass Menagerie 

    When The Glass Menagerie reached the New York stage in 1945 , it was a resounding success. A year earlier, it had also been successful in Chicago despite poor weather which initially deterred the audience.