Researching The Cruel Realities Of Life English Literature Essay


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In our lives, there is something called destiny. Everyone is born with different destiny and I believe we cannot change our destiny. The play The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams is a vivid reflection of destiny. It is about people who are too fragile to deal with the cruel realities of their lives.

There are four main characters in the play: Amanda, Laura, Tom and Jim. Amanda, mother of Laura and Tom, loves her children and tries to do the best she can for them. However, she constantly rebukes her son about his character, his job, and even the small things, such as his eating habits. Laura, the crippled daughter, has never been able to finish school. She is shy and she has no hopes or ambitions for her future. She seems to be interested only in her old music records and her "glass menagerie." About Tom, though he clearly cares for his family, he is frequently indifferent and even cruel toward them. Jim is described as a "nice, ordinary, young man." Yet this ordinary and simple person, seemingly out of place with the other characters, plays an important role in the climax of the play.

Amanda thinks it is the right time for her daughter to get married. So she asks Tom to bring home a gentleman caller for Laura.  One night Tom informs his mother that he asked Jim O'Conner to dinner the next day.  After they have dinner, the lights go out and Amanda brings out the candles. Then they leave Laura to sit alone with Jim. Laura feels hopeless and devastated when Jim tells her that he is engaged to another girl. She gives him a glass unicorn which was broken during the night. Then the play ends with the scene "[Laura] blows the candles out."

The Glass Menagerie is a memory play filled with a remarkable use of symbols to portray the destruction and failure of hopes and dreams. The fire escape is the entrance to their home. It carries a different meaning for each character. To Tom, the fire escape represents a way out of his unfortunate life because he always longs to step out into a better world with more freedom for him. For Laura, the fire escape leads the way into a safe haven. There is an interesting scene showing that Laura stumbles on her way out to run an errand for her mother. Her fall symbolizes her weakness as she attempts to leave her comfort zone. For Amanda, the fire escape is an escape from the fear of Laura's desolate future without a man who can love and take care of her.

In addition, the glass menagerie also has symbolic meaning. The fragile glass, which is frail, weak, and easily broken, symbolizes Laura. Laura is a girl with a full imagination and illusions. She not only suffers from a physical but also emotional handicap. Her glass animals are unreal, too. Another symbolic object in the play is the glass unicorn. The unicorn is a special, unique animal in a society full of horses. So Laura was considered as the unicorn-an outcast during her high school because she was shy. When the unicorn loses its horn and becomes like the rest of the animals in the glass menagerie, it loses its uniqueness. So when Jim breaks the horn off the unicorn, Laura points out that now it's like any other horses, just as Laura has shed some of her shyness and become more normal. When she hands the broken unicorn to Jim, she is saying that she is handing over her broken love to him as he has engaged to be married. The unicorn loses its uniqueness and so does Laura.

After reading the play, I cannot help but feel sympathy for Laura. She is crippled, but not only physically, mentally as well. Laura lives in her dreamland, here she can hide from all of the problems of reality as well as be sheltered from having to worry about the future. There is also a side of sympathy which we feel towards Amanda. She has led a difficult life and enjoys telling her children about her own childhood when she had many gentleman callers come to see her on Sundays. Although we are not entirely sure whether Amanda's tales are true, there is a part of each of us that hopes they are, that hopes Amanda did at one point have a chance to lead that type of life. There is also a sense of warmth for Amanda because we know that her intentions are nothing but good, in fact they are quite admirable, all she wanted for Laura was for her to find romance in her life.

This play is indeed an awesome play. It has had a significant impact on later twentieth century drama. Tom serves as both narrator and character, dissolving the present into the past. Williams signals this by exploiting lighting and sound, especially music-technologies which were less available to earlier playwrights. However, I personally do not really like it. Though I know sometimes it's hard to be optimistic about our lives, we need to keep a hope, a consuming fire flaming a passion for our lives. The last sentence of the play "she blows the candles out" stays vividly in my mind. I feel hopeless for her and it is really sad.

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