The Glass Menagerie is a play about a dysfunctional family, each caught in between their feelings and dreams. The conflicts experienced in the Wingfield’s family primarily lie deep within themselves, but also intertwine with each other. This essay will analyze the complicated relationship between Amanda–the mother and Laura—the daughter and determine why Laura prefers to live in her world, along with glass animals and phonograph records.
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Initially, the dynamic of Amanda and Laura is entirely different. Mother has a very flirty, outgoing, and strongly build complex character opposed to her daughters shy, notorious, and vulnerable. On this ground, women can never achieve peace.
Amanda always tells Laura to find a romantic partner, unable to see how closed up she is. The mother is obsessed with the thought of gentlemen coming to Laura and lives in a constant fantasy of her past, where she received 17 gentlemen to her house in one day. “One Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain – your mother received – seventeen! – gentlemen callers! Why, sometimes there weren’t enough chairs to accommodate them all. We had to send the nigger over to bring in folding chairs from the parish house” (Williams 754). That old dream manipulates her current reality and does not allow her to see the world and her children as they are.
Laura on the other side lives in her own dream world with glass animals, which replace real friends. A young lady is so terrified of the world, that she could not handle taking on the test, resulting in her vomiting because of nerves. The distant relationship between mother and daughter and their constant avoidance of reality makes their relationship so distant and full of misunderstandings. A significant difference in characters results in continual misunderstanding. Amanda’s obsession with Laura’s life caused the daughter to distance herself from the outside world and create her own, where she feels safe.
Everlasting life in the dream world consumes mother and daughter. Amanda is constantly dreaming of the life when she lived in Blue Lagoon, still unable to accept the world she exists in now as an abandoned wife and single mother of two kids living in a small apartment in St. Louis. Amanda does not notice her kids’ struggles through the prism of her obsession. On the contrary, Laura’s fantasy world consists of only herself and her darling glass animals along with the phonograph. Laura rarely goes outside because she is embarrassed about a minor defect she has-a limp that has affected her entire personality. A young girl closes herself up to be in the imagined world she created.
Introverted Laura cannot handle stress or pressure well. Knowing that Amanda’s mother enrolled the daughter to the business school where she could not even undergo a week of studying and dropped out after failing to take her typewriting test. Laura was so ashamed she is unable to tell her mother about not attending it for six weeks. A young woman demonstrates no social skills and lacks communication with the real world.
Her mother is unable to recognize the struggles her daughter experiences, and it causes Laura to suffer in loneliness and constant manipulation and disappointment from Amanda’s side “I put her in business college—a dismal failure! Frightened so it made her sick at the stomach. I took her over to the Young People’s League at the church. Another fiasco. She spoke to nobody, nobody spoke to her. Now all she does is fool with those pieces of glass and play those worn-out records. What kind of life is that for a girl to lead?” (Williams 763). Laura’s fantasy world is the only place where she is able to control what is going on around her. Her mother intimidates her with never-ending talks about marriage and the way she is supposed to be instead of supporting and managing her fears.
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Failure to understand the basic needs of children might be Amanda’s main problem. She refuses to accept the fact that they are not pursuing her imaginative goals. On that, ground Tom continually argues with his mother over the smallest thing “I haven’t enjoyed one bite of this dinner because of your constant directions on how to eat it. It’s you that makes me rush through meals with your hawk like attention to every bite I take. Sickening – spoils my appetite…!” (Williams 753), while Laura just silently agrees with her but still sticks to her own beliefs. Amanda wants what is best for her kids, but does not recognize Tom and Laura’s aspirations.
Laura’s weak character is incapable of resisting the pressure the mother puts on her. Probably glass animals are where she finds support and comfort at times when the mother nurtures her unreal dreams of what Laura should be like. Amanda does not show interest in her daughter’s aspirations and plans for the future, instead, mother blindly plants her own concepts of proper life. That lack of communication, support and mother-daughter relationship caused Laura to be the shy, introverted, isolated person she is. Laura requires a person in her life who would devote attention to her and provide the care she needs because on the inside Laura remains a kind, charming young woman.
To conclude, Laura’s constant presence in her imaginary world is caused primarily by the lack of proper communication within the family. People like Laura need constant support and mentoring from a person they look up to. Unfortunately, she never received that. Such lack of attention resulted in her creating a fantasy world where she feels control over her life.
Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. Random House Inc., 1973, pp. 749-764.