Corruption In The Glass Menagerie

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Another way familial corruption is caused by the absence of fathers is portrayed by Shakespeare and Williams is through the characterization of the family members left behind. In The Glass Menagerie, Amanda Wingfield lives in the shadow of her past and is obsessed with the idea of gentlemen callers for her daughter. This concern for her daughter is rooted more in Amanda’s own interest, however, and has a detrimental effect on their relationship. “Once we analyse how Amanda manipulates maternity, a factor more fundamental than nostalgia will begin to emerge. This principle is self-consciousness.” (Levy). The abandonment of her husband leaves Amanda in a state of fear that her son will “abandon her as her wayward husband did” and she will be…show more content…
All Tom’s attempts to care for his sister and his mother ultimately fail, including his bringing of a gentlemen caller for Laura to dinner. The gentleman caller, which Laura actually was quite fond of, was engaged and unable to be the man the Mrs. Wingfeild and Laura were hoping for. “The dinner’s disastrous outcome le[eft] Tom certain that unless he makes his own way into the world, their neediness will devour him.” (Teachout 60.) And so, at the close of the play Tom abandons his family just as his father did. Laura, though not as obviously, also embodies her absent father. She and Tom both have “inherited this man’s spiritual essence in that, for better or for worse, they perpetuate his escapism, his discomfort with the ordinary, for something it does not provide.” (Greiff 1). Like Tom’s pacification in the movie theatre, Laura spends most of her time playing her Vitrola records and tending to her menagerie of crystalline animals. “Although Laura never speaks of her father, she pays him silent yet meaningful tribute through a ritual of emulation. The Vitrola records which give background music to Laura’s fragile and beautiful world are her father’s legacy.” ( Greiff 2). Her obsessive playing of these records conveys an internal madness and separation anxiety left behind by her father. Through these elements, the familial…show more content…
The rhetorical devices used by Shakespeare and Williams convey the “whirlpool of overwhelming, complex and conflicting emotions which inhabit the individual world of each character.” (Kusovac, Olivera, and Pralas 38). In The Glass Menagerie, the words of the Wingfeild family are “smeared in language that often border[s] on madness” (Vidal xxiii), and the use of repetition throughout the play most definitively displays this. Amanda Wingfield repeats the word “jonquils” throughout the play in attempt to will herself back to her untarnished youth before her husband left her. She “feverishly” repeats the word jonquils in times of emotional tension, such as before the gentleman caller came for dinner. (Kusovac, Olivera, and Pralas 40). This repetition reveals that “she is trapped in her own memories, illusions, and above all, emotions. Her return to the past is but a way to escape the harsh realty in which she is paralyzed by fear.” (Kusovac, Olivera, and Pralas 39). In the same way, Tom Wingfield makes repeated references to movies in moments of emotional strain. “Whenever he is pressurized and feels trapped, he obsessively mentions movies as his only relief, even for a brief moment. It is through this repetition that we experience the depth of his frustrations and trapped feelings.” (Kusovac, Olivera, and Pralas
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