The Glass Menagerie' and Tennessee Williams' Life History share similarities

Thomas Lanier Williams - The Man Behind the Name Tennessee Williams

Thomas Lanier Williams, who went by the stage name Tennessee Williams, was a writer who resided from 1911 to 1983. He is regarded by many as the greatest dramatist of his time. Due to both his Southern dialect and the name of his father's state, Tennessee, he was given the moniker Tennessee. He was born in Columbus, Ohio, to a puritanical, haughty preacher's daughter and a violent, aggressive traveling salesperson. Despite the fact that Rose, his older sister, suffered from a mental illness, he loved her very much. During his childhood, his family moved to St. Louis at some time. Tennessee went a number of colleges before earning a playwriting degree. While, in college he worked in a factory that dealt with shoe- making for three years. In the 1930s, Williams started writing plays and The Glass Menagerie was his second book and he wrote it in 1944. The parallelism between ‘The Glass Menagerie’ and Tennessee Williams’ life will be the base of this essay. The parallelism between ‘The Glass Menagerie’ and Tennessee Williams’ life will be the base of this essay.

The Personal Experiences of Tennessee Williams in His Dramatic Works

Unlike many authors, Tennessee Williams used his personal experiences and life as direct subject matter in many of his dramas. He did that so as to universalize them in writings as well as through the stage. Therefore, his life was utilized severally in the development of his dramas. ‘The Glass Menagerie’ is a good example of a memory play; Williams depicted this in all his stage directions, production notes, and in the play’s first speech. Additionally, Williams believed that the truth, reality or life was the main foundation of poetic imagination, and they could only be represented only through transformation. All his staging differs with the existing reality of current plays in terms of displaying vivid and penetrating expression of issues as they are.

The Similarities Between Williams' Life and 'The Glass Menagerie'

There exist a lot of similarities between Williams’ life and that of his family with the lives’ of his characters in ‘The Glass Menagerie’. The characters comprised the Wingfield’s family members: Tom, his sister Laura, his Mother Amanda, and their father, all of them were represented by a picture. The paly also included a character that was called Jim O’Connor who was the gentleman caller. The autobiographical of Tom Wingfield was identical to that of Williams himself. The first noticeable similarity is when the author named the main character and narrator as Tom; this is because the author’s real name was Thomas and not Tennessee. He had been nicknamed Tennessee when he was in college (Bloom, 100).

Tom and Williams - Struggles of Work and Dreams

Additionally, even though it was not stated clearly in the play, the character Tom was to some extent seemed to be a homosexual, while on the other side, Williams was known to be a homosexual. Other similarities between the author and character Tom were also depicted in the play. For instance, in the play the main character, Tom, was working unhappily in a warehouse that dealt with shoes. He used to toil every day in a job which he despised a lot. Williams was also very unhappy in his job as a worker in shoe factory. Just like Williams, Tom spent a lot of his free time writing poetry so as to escape the harsh and disheartening reality of his personal life (Bloom, 150). Furthermore, Tom felt very guilty when he wanted to leave his mother and sister so as to achieve his dreams; similarly, Williams underwent a life of guilt and depression because of Rose his sister, mental state as well as his personal decision to leave her to achieve his goals.

Amanda Wingfield - The Domineering Mother Figure

Amanda Wingfield a character in the play is very alike to the author’s mother Edwina Williams. Amanda depicted the picture of a domineering mother who was not willing to accept the fact that she was no longer a youth especially in Mississippi Delta where she used to have seventeen gentleman callers, the actions of this character reflected those of Edwina, the author’s mother. Additionally, both Edwina and Amanda were very insensitive towards their children’s emotions and feelings, and the more they attempted to push them towards achieving a better future, the more they succeeded in pushing them away (Bloom, 200)

Laura Wingfield - Rose's Reflection

Laura Wingfield in the play was modeled to reflect the life of Rose Williams, sister to the author. Williams described Laura as a shy lady and a person who was emotionally disturbed. Additionally, Laura was stressed over several issues and some of them included the strained relationship between her brother and mother, and the awareness that her own mother was trying very desperately to get for her a gentlemen caller. To escape from reality she used to retreat to her domain of glass animals. Similarly Rose William’s sister, who was a shy, mentally ill and emotionally disturbed young woman. Also, Rose was not living in a reality world either, and she spent a lot of her lifetime in mental hospitals (Williams and Bottom, 144).

The Absent Father and Jim O'Connor

Moreover, the smiling picture of Laura and Tom’s absent father represented Williams’ father, Cornelius Williams, who was often absent because he used to work as a shoe salesman and the nature of his job involved a lot of travelling. Despite the fact that, the character of Laura and Tom’s father was only seen in the portrait; however, he had an intimidating influence mainly on the lives of the other characters. He was also frequently referred to throughout the play. On the other side, Cornelius Williams, author’s father, had an abusive behavior and he influenced the life of Williams in a great way (Williams and Bottoms, 250). Jim O’Connor seemed to be a personality that Williams admired and maybe to some extent wished he was the one with such a character. This was because Jim was popular and loved by many; while, Williams himself was not so popular or very loved by many people particularly the people who were protesting against homosexuality.

The Impact of Personal Experience in 'The Glass Menagerie'

In conclusion, throughout the whole play ‘The Glass menagerie’ Williams displayed the impacts of his personal existence through the various characters he shaped. In other words, this is an extensive personal creativity work, a classic and a captive story. The play was poignant and fragile. Even though, the play was set in 1944 the characters motivations and the themes displayed in the play still reverberate today. The protagonists were forced to face the harsh truth only after subjecting their children to psychological degradation. The dysfunctional family represented in the book is still alive today because parents are still trying to control the lives of their children, parents who did not succeed in life are still trying to live and achieve their dreams through their children, and lastly, majority of children are trying to escape from their parents’ control so that they can fulfill their own dreams.

Works cited

Bloom, Harold. Tennessee Williams's the Glass Menagerie. New York: Chelsea House, 2007. Internet resource.

Bloom, Harold. Tennessee Williams's the Glass Menagerie. New York, NY: Bloom's Literary Criticism, 2007. Print.

Williams, Tennessee, and Stephen J. Bottoms. The Glass Menagerie. London: Methuen Drama, 2009. Print.

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