Amanda Wingfield is the protagonist of Tennessee William’s Glass Menagerie. She is the mother of the two other characters – Tom and Laura. She is a character with admirable qualities and her personality is beyond any sympathy. Her character is that of a dreamer who in the end turns a realist. Williams stated that Amanda is a character that is both lovable and pitiable. There is a lot about the character that a reader will love and a lot that they will dislike. The essay analyzes this duality of Amanda’s character.
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Amanda is a woman of small stature. She is full of vitality even though she shows muddled countenance. She is a character who is stuck between her wishful memories and constrained realities. In the beginning of the play, Amanda is swarmed in reminiscence of her erstwhile life in Mississippi as a southern belle. Her perceived life is stuck like a cork to the past that prevents her to accept the extant.
She severely tries to mold the lives of her two adult children and tries to imbibe the myth of American dream in their lives. She is a character who, apparently, is one who is a constant nag and moralizes at smallest pretext. Her desire, undeniably, is to put across a cheery environment, expressing her disillusionment of the reality, which is expressed in her call, “Rise and Shine!” (Williams 80). Everyday she awakens her son Tom with this call, which is etched in the ears of the reader as a prime leitmotif of her character.
She constantly carps on Tom for his habits and tries to impose Puritan ideals on him. Amanda, constantly reprimands Tom for his choice of jobs: “Sounds to me like a fairly responsible job, the sort of a job you would be in if you just had more get-up” (Williams 95).
She constantly jibes Tom for his eating habit, smoking, and lack of interest in a proper and “responsible” job. She even accuses Tom for his half-hearted desire to produce a proper suitor for his sister Laura: “Do you realize he’s the first young man we’ve introduced to your sister? It’s terrible, dreadful, disgraceful that poor little sister has never received a single gentleman caller!” (Williams 93) With her constant nagging she often drives her children away, which becomes apparent in the first scene when Tom disgustedly says to Amanda that he has not enjoyed a single bite of his meal because of her “constant directions on how to ear it” (Williams 60).
Amanda’s specious and unrealistic character becomes discernable when she states, “I’ll tell you what I wished for on the moon. Success and happiness for my precious children!” (Williams 91) Her irrational visage become even more apparent when she herself overindulges on account of the gentleman suitor for Laura and then accuses Tom for ignoring the fact the he was already engaged and forgetting that he had from the very beginning dissuaded her to fuss.
These aspects clearly show that Amanda is a loving and doting mother, even though she fails to realize that with her overenthusiasm and unrealistic attitude, she was creating a web of dreams beyond realism. Her veracity was transfixed at a time and place that was no more. She failed to accustom herself to the life she had after her husband left her and brooded in the past. Her desire to control her daughter’s life is equally menacing.
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Tennessee William believes that Amanda is a character who is both admirable as well as pitiable. She is admirable for her past and her love for her children. However, her folly lies in her unrealistic and overbearing character. Her unquestionable love and expectation, though thwarting for her children, shows her exceeding passion for a brighter future for them.
Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. New York: New Directions Publishing, 1945. Print.