Tennessee Williams is world renowned playwright and a writer whose works have been staged, made into films, televisions serials and even radio productions. The Glass Menagerie is rated as one his best works and it was premiered in Chicago in 1944. In 1945 it received the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and it was also one of the most successful plays of Williams. With this play he became one of the best playwrights of America. It has been made into a film twice but never a runaway hit. This play was made in Malayalam, in India, with names and characters changed to suit Indian audience. A film in Iran was also made with the same plot as theme of the film.
Laura is a very shy girl and refuses to socialize with people while the mother is a bubbly and friendly lady. She is quite sad that her daughter has not been able to find a suitor for herself. She enrols her daughter for a course in a Business College but soon realizes that she has not been attending classes. She has been walking around the zoo and other places and the teacher finally informs her mother. Now Amanda desperately wants to find a groom for her and insists upon Tom to find a suitor for her.
Laura is not at all interested in marriage. Amanda wants to know if she has anybody in mind. She tells her mother she was fond of a boy in school called Jim who had named her ‘Blue Roses’. But she got to know soon that he was engaged to another girl and with that lost touch with him. Laura is crippled and that really bothers her and is the main reason why she does not stir out of the house. Her main past time is cleaning and gazing at the glass animals. Amanda who was so unlike her cannot understand how Laura could be so aloof from society.
Life Revolves Around Laura
The relationship between the mother and son is not always smooth. The son always goes away in the night to watch films but Amanda thinks he is going out with bad people. He tries to explain but she cannot understand and at times just agrees not wanting to argue. He loves his sister and wants her to lead a normal life but cannot get her to do it. Laura feels that Tom does not like his house and is escaping from it all the time. For Tom, morning it is the warehouse, night it is the cinema house. Tom does not hate the house but he definitely is not happy with his work and secretly applies for a job in the merchant navy.
Amanda asks Tom to find a nice boy for Laura from the warehouse. Soon Tom tells his mother a friend from the warehouse is coming for dinner. Amanda is so excited but Tom warns his mother, tells her that he was only given an invite for dinner. He had not mentioned about Laura. The last scene of the play has Amanda sprucing up the house and waiting excitedly for Jim. She also gets Laura to dress up in her best clothes and when she hears Jim O Connors is the guest for the evening, she falls sick, for that was the boy she a soft corner in school. Now she is not ready to face him or talk with him.
Short Lived Happy Moments
Jim arrives and Laura refuses to come because she falls sick and then while others have dinner she is resting on the sofa. Meanwhile the power goes off. Tom had used the money kept aside for electricity bill to pay for his admission into merchant navy. He admits to his mother that he has not paid the bill but does not tell what happened to the money. After dinner Jim is asked to spend time with Laura. At first she is shy and then she slowly opens up and reminds him of the school days. He does not remember her but when she tells about Blue Rose he remembers. And soon they are talking about her glass dolls and he is seeing through them.
She is so happy that even when her favourite unicorn falls from Jim’s hands she is not upset. The horn breaks and she tells him let it be a plain horse now. He even kisses but it does not seem to be one out of lust. Then he tells her about his fiancée Betsy and leaves the house to receive Betsy at the station. Amanda is very upset but sees him off cheerfully. Then she scolds Tom for being so careless and bringing a man who was to be married soon. But Tom did not know about it and is upset and as usual goes away to the movies. Laura is sad but happy to have spent some time with Jim and she puts back the horn on the unicorn’s head.
Amanda is very expressive. She not only bursts with anger but also expresses her love unabashed. It might be that the exuberance of the mother brings in a subdued quality in Laura and Tom. Both are fond of each other and they are fond of their mother too. But both do not express it as much as Amanda does. Laura is contended person; contended with her small world. Tom is discontented and eventually goes in search of that life which would bring him some peace and satisfaction.
The narrator Tom comes on the stage and he tells to the audience he was fired from his job and then he travelled a lot. But he never found joy in anything and all the while he was thinking of his sister and then tells that he truly loved his sister and every glass or light that he saw reminded him of her. With this narration the play closes. It is said that this play is very close to the life of Williams. He had a mentally challenged sister, Rose Williams. Laura’s nature was more like Williams, an introvert. Many critics claim that the play is autobiographical.