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Glass Minagerie

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A Biographical Criticism of the Glass Menagerie

The Glass Menagerie is an intriguing screenplay that portrays the image of a struggling family and hardships that they encounter through the eyes of the son, Thomas, who is also the narrator. Much of the symbolism employed in this drama is directly related to the authors own personal life experiences, giving main focus to his family relationships and the troubles with his father. The script is about a family a four, a mother, a father, an older sister, and a younger brother. The characters in this drama are almost identical to the author himself, in some respect as well as to his parents and older sister in real life. Written in 1945 by Tennessee Williams (Thomas Lanier Williams), The Glass Menagerie depicts a family of three who live in a small apartment in the city. They struggle emotionally and monetarily while mourning the disappearance of their father, who has abandoned the family and moved over seas. Not only does the entire script appear as though it was actual reality for the author himself, but the characters in the play are quite similar to Tennessee’s own family in many ways. In The Glass Menagerie, Tom’s father is a hard drinker, and a telephone salesman who spends most of his time away from home until one day, out of the blue he disappears with no warning. The family later receives a postcard from Mazatlan with nothing more than, “Hello & Goodbye” written on the back. Although Tennessee’s father, Cornelius Williams did not move away and abandon his family as the character in this script did, he still has some of the similarities of the father in the script. Cornelius himself was a hard drinker as well and also involved in sales, but he did shoe sales. Like the father in the script, Cornelius spent most of his time away from the family as well. Tennessee did not have a very strong relationship with his father due to his father’s lack of care for the family along with Cornelius’ physical and emotional abuse the family lastly endured. The author employs the father’s abandonment in the script as symbolism to express his feelings on how he felt toward his father. He was never there for him and perceives his father as being absent from his life completely. The woman who portrays the character of the mother is snooty, bossy and expects things to be done in her manner. According to Tennessee’s biography his mother Edwina’s character is much so reflected in the mother in the drama. “While she was known as a loving mother, she was also thought of as an archetype of the ‘Southern belle’, whose social aspirations tilted toward snobbery and whose behavior could be neurotic and hysterical” (Hale, Roudane). The sister on the other hand, is portrayed in the screen play as shy and soft spoken. She holds a close bond with her brother and has some sort mental illness. “Tennessee has admitted that growing up in a female-dominated environment gave him empathy for the woman characters he created as a playwright. Shy, fragile and predisposed to emotional disturbances, eventually to the point of mental illness, Rose inspired a host of characters in his fiction” (Thornton). With so many similarities between the characters’ personalities in The Glass Menagerie and Tennessee Williams’ real life family, it is apparent that this screen play was written with reflection about his personal life and family relationships. They were very much evident in his thoughts and works. The manner, in which Tennessee Williams illustrates the usage of symbolism, makes the drama very realistic to real life experiences. Perhaps these experiences are ones that a reader can identify in some way or manner.

Works Cited
Hale, Allan; Roudané, Matthew Charles (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Tennessee Williams, Cambridge Univ. Press (1997). Web. 19 Oct. 2011.
Thornton, Margaret Bradham. Notebooks, Yale Univ. Press (2006) Web. 19 Oct. 2011

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