October 29, 2005

Glass Menagerie 1

Williams, The Glass Menagerie (Scenes 1-5) -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

AMANDA: No, dear, you go in front and study your typewriter chart. Or practise your shorthand a little. Stay fresh and pretty! It's almost time for our gentlemen callers to start arriving. [She flounces girlishly toward the kitchenette.] How many do you suppose we're going to entertain this afternoon?

[Tom throws down the paper and jumps up with a groan.]

LAURA [alone in the dining-room]: I don't believe we're going to receive any, Mother.

AMANDA [reappearing, airily ] What? Not one - not one? You must be joking!

[LAURA nervously echoes her laugh.S he slips in a fugitive manner through the half-open portières and draws them in gently behind her. A shaft of very clear light is thrown on her face against the faded tapestry of the curtains.]


Not one gentleman caller? It can't be true ! There must be a flood, there must have been a tornado!

LAURA: It isn't a flood, it's not a tornado, Mother. I'm just not popular like you were in Blue Mountain. ... [Tom utters another groan. LAURA glances at him with a faint, apologetic smile. Her voice catching a little.] Mother's afraid I'm going to be an old maid.

The mother in the play, Amanda, seems to have her priorities backwards. Not only has her daughter quit business college, without informing her mother for fear of punishment, but she stays holed up in her home all day listening to records and cleaning her glass. The mother can't identify her daughter as crippled, and the mother also doesn't understand why gentlemen callers aren't falling all over the doorstep for her daughter. Unfortunately, the daughter never leaves the home to make anyone's acquaintance, and nor does she care to because she is so shy. She is a complete foil to Amanda who flirts shamelessly and unabashedly with anything that has two legs. Amanda also embodies the old southern belle-esque persona, which is later seen in the play when she speaks to her daughter's first psuedo-caller. (I won't go into detail here, since this is only to be about the earlier scene).

However, from the opening scenes the audience gets the idea that Tom is trying to break free or atleast, feels restrained by living with his mother. We get the idea that the mother has other plans for her children. We also get the idea that the daughter just wants to live in a child-like haze in wonderment of her glass figurines.

Posted by KatieAikins at October 29, 2005 4:30 PM

Like Laura who hides behind her figurines and music, Amanda seems to attempt an escape into her world of southern hospitality and shameless flirtations. Amanda is so wrapped up in the past, she has no concept of existing in the now. Honestly, I question the reality of Amanda's past. To me, it's more believable that Amanda had a childhood similar to Laura's and her world of callers and romantic interludes is an invention. Laura and Amanda may actually have more in common then they believe; they both live in the fantasy worlds of their minds.

Posted by: Katie Lambert at October 30, 2005 7:03 PM

Laura is supposed to parallel William's "tragically disturbed" sister. I guess the parallel is vague because I don't see any signs of her being insane. She just seems like a shy girl with a slight obsession with glass. Sure, Tom says she "lives in her own world" but there might not be anything more than her being an insecure daydreamer.

Posted by: Kayla Sawyer at October 30, 2005 9:12 PM


I doubt that Amanda's childhood is ficticious; this belief is solely based on my instinct to hold out for the days gone with the wind when there were such a thing as cotillions and comings out and the like in society. She is the southern belling double clutching a mint julep and hand fan if ever there were one.


I couldn't see the plausible insanity, myself. She just really liked to polish her glass and was super introverted. Perhaps, in those times, it was not normal to behave that way. Another pressure point might have been the fact that she wasn't taking home any pay and that upset the mother because she was just using space, rather than being productive. She did try to be sociable once she was acclimated to the caller, but then, that blew up in her face.

Oh, to broken glass.

Posted by: Katie Aikins at October 30, 2005 10:20 PM

In that time period, what alternatives are available to Laura if she isn't earning money and she's too shy to find a husband?

Amanda is just scraping by with the skills she's learned, and the career options that are available to a woman with out a practical education (other than the social graces, I mean). So Katie is right to note the issue is not simply Larua's oddness.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at October 31, 2005 7:12 PM

Amanda sort of reminds me of Mrs. Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. She is sort of frustrating and annoying, and she does seem to have her priorities a little mixed up. But, at the same time I think she is justified in worrying about the financial well-being of Laura and the family. Like Professor Jerz says what alternative is there for Laura? There really aren't a whole lot of options.

Posted by: Lorin Schumacher at October 31, 2005 9:06 PM