The Glass Menagerie

The Glass Menagerie is a short play of a small part of a family’s life. But this small part of their lives tells the viewer so much more about the characters involved. We get a glimpse into their personalities and their past. We are also left to work out the ending in our imaginations. This essay will explore three main characters; namely the mother, the daughter and the son; and show how these characters tell us so much about the story.

A vivacious mother trying to live through her daughter

Amanda is the mother of the other two main characters. She has had a full social life as a young woman and tells her children stories of how so many men were after her in her day. This seems to be a defence mechanism against the fact that her husband left her so that he could travel. However, Amanda still believes that the only way her daughter will find a suitor, is by being as vivacious as what she was at that age.

A son with much of his father in him

Tom is the son of Amanda (and also the narrator of the play). Although he has been left with providing for his family, he secretly desires to leave just as his father did. He also dreams of travelling so as to escape the mundane existence of working every day. Towards the end of the play, we learn that Tom has sacrificed his family’s utility money and bought himself a ticket aboard the merchant marines.

The likable characteristics of the daughter

Laura is the shy daughter of Amanda and sister of Tom. When the family is visited by an old school friend of hers, Jim, Laura hides away pretending to be sick. However, she later joins the conversation and finds herself infatuated with the guest (as she was in school). Jim accidentally breaks one of Laura’s glass unicorn figurines, but Laura quickly forgives him and says that the figurine looks like a horse.

Laura is a forgiving character and despite her shyness, always sees the good in people and circumstances. She is nothing like her mother, which may add to the likeableness of her character. Tom intends to leave his family to fend for themselves so that he can find adventure on the seas. The culmination of all this is left up to us; but the point of the play seems to be more focused on the characters and the intricacies of their lives.