The Glass Menagerie | Questions and Answers

The Glass Menagerie | Questions and Answers

The Glass Menagerie Questions and Answers

  1. In The Glass Menagerie, why can’t Tom leave his sister behind? Does he get caught by the past and memory?

Tom recounts what his life had become after leaving home. Tom cannot escape his memories of Laura and his own guilt for leaving her. His love for her and his understanding of her fragile and vulnerable life were all that had kept him at home for as long as he had managed to stay. He was emotionally trapped at home, and he remained emotionally trapped after leaving. There is no escape for Tom; he cannot escape his own character, no matter where he runs or what he does

  1. Are characters in William’s plays based on his family members?

Part of Laura’s character profile has its roots in the personality of Rose, Tennessee Williams’ sister, and Amanda is a reflection of his mother Edwina. Brooding Tom is probably a reflection of Williams himself, who readily stated that he took to writing as a refuge from his own problems.

  1. Why is Laura the tragic hero in “The Glass Menagerie”?

Of the characters in “The Glass Menagerie”, Laura’s situation is the most tragic. Tom is able to escape his circumstances by joining the Merchant Marines. Jim leaves the apartment and, apparently marries Betty and goes on with his life. Amanda is older and can still retain her memories of “Blue Mountain.” Laura, however, has never had a good life to be able to remember. She has always been terribly shy and obsessed with the idea that everyone notices the fact that she is crippled.

  1. Which of the symbols in The Glass Menagerie represent reality and which represent illusion?

The one symbol that seems to represent reality is the picture of the father who is grinning during the entire play. He has been the only person to really escape his circumstances by running away from his family.

The other major symbols, the glass collection and the unicorn represent a fantasy world that Laura has created for herself. The fire escape, the only way out of the apartment, is – also a symbol of illusion.

  1. How does Tennesse Williams use the distinction technique in his play “The Glass Menagerie”?

Ans. Tennessee Williams uses the technique known as “breaking the fourth wall,” when a fictional character talks directly to the audience and thereby breaks through the invisible screen that separates audience from characters, by having Tom speak directly to the audience.

  1. In The Glass Menagerie, does Laura show any sign of having a super ego?

Ans. Laura does not exhibit any signs of having a conscience or moral compass because of the nature of her character as she is developed in the play. Laura’s personality is so fragile–actually fractured–she does not interact with the world or with others in any authentic way. She moves through her very small world as the shadow of the person she might have been but did not become.

  1. Why is Amanda obsessed with finding a suitor for Laura?

Amanda is convinced that unless Laura marries, she nu have no one to support her after Amanda dies.

  1. In The Glass Menagerie, does Amanda sell newspaper subscriptions to earn more money, or does she take out a personal ad for Laura to find a suitor?

Amanda tries to sell magazine subscriptions over the telephone to earn income. This information is included in the play through staging. Amanda’s part of the conversation is her sales pitch to get her customer to renew her subscription to another magazine, Companion. Amanda does not place an ad to find Laura a suitor. Instead, she pressures Tom continually to find someone for his sister.

  1. What does the moon represent in “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams?

The moon for Amanda represents reminiscence and nostalgia about her youth; she also sees in it the possibility of romance and love for her daughter Laura. For Laura, it represents the inaccessible aspect of romance instead of nostalgia.

  1. How did each of the characters escape from reality?

Amanda often fantasizes about her past. This is her way to escape. Tom is always trying to avoid his situations, too. He often dreams of abandoning his family. Laura isn’t able to do much. Her nervousness doesn’t allow her to function normally in either school or with other men. Her escape is her glass collection.

  1. In The Glass Menagerie, does Williams present a realistic portrait of family life or is it an exaggeration?

The play was never intended to be realistic. In fact, at the very beginning of the play Tom, in his role of narrator, says, “The play is memory….it is not realistic.” He also remarks, “I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.”

  1. Can you discuss three main symbols from “The Glass Menagerie” in relation to at least two characters from the play?

In Sc.1 Tom the narrator remarks that the character, gentleman caller is also a symbol: “he is the long delayed but always expected something that we live for.”

In Sc.7 when the lights go out Amanda gives Jim a “lovely old candelabrum” which had “melted a little out of shape.”

Laura’s collection of glass animals and especially the glass unicorn comprise the most important symbol in the play.

  1. Who is the protagonist of Glass Menagerie? Why?

Tom is the protagonist of the play. In the beginning of the play, it is Tom who steps onstage to narrate the story as if it occurred in his past.

14. What are some ways in which Amanda tries to relive her past in “The Glass Menagerie”?

  • Amanda is always telling the story about how she entertained 17 gentleman callers one afternoon when she was a girl in Blue Mountain.
  • During Jim’s visit, Amanda puts on a dress that she wore to the cotillion in Blue Mountain when she was a girl.
  • Amanda tells Jim that she “had so many servants” when she was a girl.
  • Amanda expects Laura to find “gentlemen callers” when it is clear she is emotionally incapable of doing that.
  • Just before Jim’s visit, Amanda tells Laura all about the summer she moved to Blue Mountain, gathered jonquils, and met her husband.

15. Generally, plays do not have narrators. How does the fact that Tom is the narrator affect the style and content of “The Glass Menagerie”?

Tom is not only the narrator, but also the protagonist of the play. The play is told from his memory. As Tom points out at the beginning of the play, Tom gives us truth “in the form of illusion.” Thus, when seen on stage, parts of the play seem rather “dreamy” and, of course, we see all the action from Tom’s perspective.

  1. Discuss the symbol of the glass menagerie. What does it represent? Does it represent the same things throughout the play?

The glass menagerie symbolizes Laura. Like the glass animals Laura is fragile, a dreamer who doesn’t face reality, and she, like the little animals, is old fashioned. The lection symbolizes the same thing throughout the play, but the different animals in the collection take on different meanings.

  1. What role did Amanda, Tom, and Laura play in the “The Glass Menagerie”?

Tom reveals his dual role in the opening scene of the play:

“I am the narrator of the play, and also a character in it.”

Amanda, is Tom’s and Laura’s mother. throughout the play she is stressed out at having to make both ends meet. Her only aim in life is “success and happiness for my precious children” (sc.5)

Laura is the physically challenged girl in the family.

  1. Who is the main character of “The Glass Menagerie”. Tom, Laura or Amanda? Why?

Tom Wingfield is the protagonist or main character in the play, he is also the narrator.

  1. Which aspects of “The Glass Menagerie” are realistic and the most unrealistic?

The most realistic aspect is the dreary tenement building where the Wingfields live. The fire escape leads down to the street where a multitude of other buildings replicate the same atmosphere until going out of sight. The most unrealistic aspect is the Paradise Dance Hall across the street, where music and laughter and even rainbow reflections from the chandelier cast eerie lights, sounds and shadows upon the Wingfield apartment.

  1. In “The Glass Menagerie”, Tom calls Laura “peculiar” but Amanda bristles at this word. What is peculiar about Laura?

Laura is peculiar in several ways. First, she was born with a slight birth defect which made one leg longer than another. This makes her walk with a limp. Laura is very self-conscious about her leg. That, couples with the fact that her father abandoned the family and her extreme shyness makes her seem odd to other people.

  1. Why is the play called “The Glass Menagerie”?

The play was originally entitled “The Glass Menagerie.” That is because it is a symbol of Laura’s frailty. Like the glass figurines that she loves so well, Laura is very fragile and has a great deal of trouble existing in the modern world.

  1. What is the detailed meaning of “Blue Mountain” in “The Glass Menagerie”?

Blue Mountain is the place where Amanda grew up It is also the place where she met and married her husband who fell in love with long distance.” The word “blue” also mirrors “blue roses”, the term Jim used to call Laura. Just as “blue” roses did not exist at the time the play was written, the author may be suggesting that “Blue Mountain” did not really exist as Amanda remembers it. This would also reinforce the idea that, just a Tom’s memories of the play may not be altogether accurate, Amanda’s memories may also be somewhat illusionary.

  1. In The Glass menagerie”, how does the kind of language Tom uses as a narrator differ from what he uses as a character?

When Tom addresses the audience, his speech is much more erudite and lofty than when he simply talks to Amanda, Laura, and Jim in the play. Whereas the speech throughout the play is natural, spontaneous dialogue, Tom’s language to the audience is more like a speech’ or public address. The form Tom chooses is a deliberate one; he takes a certain poetic license when narrating the story.

  1. In The Glass Menagerie,” what do the candles symbolize?

There are several ways of looking at the candles. First, they establish a more muted tone – you might even call it romantic. That less harsh light perhaps allows Laura to be more open with Jim; it gives her courage. That might lead to an interpretation that the candles symbolize hope.

  1. In “The Glass Menagerie,” what is the significance of Laura’s glass animals, especially the symbolic unicorn?

There is a special affinity between Laura and the unicorn. The unicorn does not exist in the modern world, just as Aura seems unable to exist in modern society. She has a limp and feels deformed; the unicorn has only one horn, which makes him different from the rest of the animals.

  1. What is the narrator’s role in “The Glass Menagerie”? What would be gained or lost without him?

There simply would be no play without Tom, the narrator, because, not only he is the narrator but also a character in the play. As narrator, Tom can look both backward and forward and discuss the ramifications of events as they take place. As a character in the play, the audience can sympathize with his plight and see the family dynamics in action. As the supposed writer of the play, we have to realize that the play is told from Tom’s memory so, in some cases, that memory may be, hazy or unreliable.

  1. What is meant by lights going out in the middle of dinner in The Glass Menagerie”?

The lights going out in the middle of dinner have both a literal meaning, Tom did not pay the electric bill, and a figurative meaning, it is a foreshadowing of what will happen to Amanda and Laura at the end of the play, they will be left both literally and figuratively in the dark when Tom abandons them.

  1. “He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I. give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion” What does the quote mean?

This line is from the beginning of the play and “he” Tom refers to a magician. A magician gives the audience an illusion that has the appearance of truth but Tom is going to give the truth disguised as an illusion. This means the action of the play is not going to be a completely realistic. Finally, Tom reminds the audience that this is a story told in flashback, the actual event having occurred five to ten years before. The truth Tom intends to tell is the truth about his family: his mother, Amanda; his sister, Laura; himself plus the truth about Jim, the gentleman caller.

  1. What does Amanda nag Tom to provide in “The Glass Menagerie”?

Amanda nags her son Tom about the proper way to chew his food, she reprimands him for going to the movies too much. She returns a book he is reading to the Library because she thought it was inappropriate. She accuses him of being selfish.

  1. Tom’s engagement in three modes of salvation: going to the movies, going to the moon, going much further? What does each mean?

Tom’s job in the warehouse is boring, at home his overbearing mother is constantly nagging him and telling him what to do. So as a way to escape his life, he goes to the movies every night. The reference about Tom going to the moon  has to do with a comment Amanda makes to him in anger at the end of the play when she confronts him about Jim being engaged and Tom not knowing this important fact. After he was fired from his job at the warehouse he joined the Merchant man and went from city to city.

  1. What is the significance of adventure and memory in “The Glass Menagerie”?

Memory and adventure are also connected in the sense that each of the characters relies on his or her own memory to have “adventures” or to relive experiences from the past.

  1. What are the religious references in scene 7 of “The Glass Menagerie”?

AMANDA. Where was Moses when the lights went out? Ha-ha. Do you know the answer to that one, Mr. O’Connor?

JIM. No, Ma’am, what’s the answer?

AMANDA. In the dark!” (Williams, pg. 67)

  1. In “Glass Menagerie,” what does Tom mean: “Oh Laura, I try to leave you behind me but I’m more faithful than I intended to be!”?

Tom feels confined and trapped by his family situation. He hates his job, and he longs for escape. When he is finally able to break free and physically leave his home and work, he discovers that it is not so easy to break the emotional ties, especially to his sister, Laura.

  1. Which character in “The Glass Menagerie” could be considered a tragic hero?

Tom is a tragic hero in The Glass Menagerie. He is trapped in a situation that he cannot get out of his position in the family as breadwinner. He can’t get out of this situation without dramatically damaging his relationship with both his mother and his sister. He is particularly flawed when it comes to his sister.

  1. In “The Glass Menagerie,” what does Laura’s limp symbolize and what do the candles that Laura blows out represent?

Laura’s limp symbolizes her lack of self-esteem and her insecurities about being independent and her feeling of inferiority since she is considered physically “disabled.” The candles that Laura blows out could represent the end of the life that she once knew, since Tom left town after the fiasco with his friend Jim and the dinner Amanda made for him.

  1. Where is Amanda’s husband in “The Glass Menagerie”?

Amanda’s husband, whose World War I portrait hangs on the wall and is illuminated from time to time, was a “telephone man who fell in love with long distances, according to Tom in a bitter pun. Her husband abandoned his family sixteen years ago. Since then his only contact with the family has been a postcard from Matzalan, Mexico, saying, “Hello! Goodbye!” He never appears in the play, and his exact whereabouts are unknown.

  1. In The Glass Menagerie, what is the role of Laura?

Shy and delicate, Tom’s sister Laura wears a brace on her leg. Separated from the world of reality by her disposition, her mother’s demands, her and handicap, she becomes ill even at the thought of social interaction. Instead, she lives in the world of her imagination, which is represented by her glass menagerie of little animals. She is important to the play in that she provides a conflict for her brother, who must work a job he loathes in order to care for her, and she is also important for depicting the effects of living a life of dreams.

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