Character Analysis in the Glass Menagerie Essay

The play, The Glass Menagerie was published in 1945, but the actual play takes place in the early 1900’s. To be more specific it takes place 1937, which was actually the time of the great depression. This contributes a lot to the setting of the play. It starts off in a little apartment that should be seen as a cozy little place. There is a picture of a man in a World War I uniform, and a typewriter. The Glass Menagerie is a play solely based on the memory of the character Tom. However, each character seems to have their obsession with time and memory itself.

To start us off here, a memory play is a play that captures an entire act or experience. So when the writer discusses that this play is a “memory play,” they are saying that it is all based off the memory and experiences of the narrator. In this case, the narrator is Ton Winfield. It’s all a recall of his life. The character of Tom makes it very clear that the entire play is based off of memory and he says the memory, is selective and is not always remembered to its fullest. Because this is a memory play, Tom can actually form his play however he wants. After all, it is his memories.

In terms of how this play is defined as a memory play, many times during the play music starts to play when a new scene is coming up. This is an automatic sign that it is a memory. The audience is supposed to understand the trigger of a memory when music plays. For example, “Ave Maria,” plays when Amanda and Tom are in a fight, this song triggers the memory of the fight for Tom. Another example is when the song, “The Glass Menagerie,’ plays a lot of the time that the audience is focusing on Laura. This is because of the fact that Laura can often be compared to glass figures she often finds comfort in playing with.

Looking into the four main characters, Tom’s character represents an obsession with the past, present, and the future. The writer says this because Tom is the narrator of this play. Therefore, everything is based on his memory. To start off, the writer would have to say that Tom is living for the thrill. All he wants is to be able to have adventure in his life. Tom’s fixation on the past is merely the guilt he feels at the end of the play for leaving Laura. At many points in the end of the play, Tom compares himself with his father. He relates himself to his father because the both left their family.

This of course, causes a lot of remorse. Tom represents the present just because of the fact that he is living in it, and he is living the present in a very angry way. His mother, Amanda, is always nagging him to be successful. The way that Tom is living in his future, can almost be compared to a little child. He wants to endure adventures and thrills. It reminds the audience of a little kid dreaming of being an astronaut, or the president of the United States.. Maybe this idea was given to him in all of the movies that he sees throughout the play.

The audience is supposed to infer that he is going to the movies to escape his nagging mother and trying to find the adventure that he is looking for. The character of Laura Wingfield is a representation of the past, and the present. Laura is in fact, the most selfless character in the whole play. To the reader, she is extremely naive. As basically all of the characters in the play, Laura refuses to face reality. It is hard to say what concept of time she really represents because of the fact that she lives in, as some would say, “her own little world. One would even call it, “Laura Land. ” The reader believes that this world takes place in both the past and the present. In the beginning of the play, starting in scene two, Laura retreats to her glass animals. These animals represent so many things. Her favorite animal that she brings up when she is talking to Jim is the unicorn. Again this represents how rare she really is, and how she truly doesn’t exactly fit in. Throughout the play an image of a blue rose is shown on the screen. The blue rose is absolutely an essential characteristic of Laura.

The writer says this because it symbolizes her character. The Blue rose is an extremely rare flower, a lot like how Laura is an extremely rare kind of human being. Laura’s relationship with Jim starts off based on her past with him, more or less her crush on him in high school. Then all too soon, it becomes a part of the present, when he just shows up in scene six. Amanda Wingfield is a character that completely represents the obsession with the past, with a tiny bit of hope for the future. Amanda is the mother of two of the main characters, Tom and Laura.

Amanda’s character is absolutely fixated on the past. This book took place in the year 1937, which was a time of Depression. The unemployment rates were extremely high, she had an unmarried daughter, and her son was “selfish,” to say the least. Because of all of these things, Amanda chooses to live in her past. Although for some reason, she seems to avoid the whole idea of the father that left them. For the brief seconds that Amanda looks at the future, she creates “plans and provisions” for her children.

She feels the need to try and plan every single thing she wants her children to do, which they seem to not take very well. To start off the play at scene one, the screen is introduced to the audience. Throughout the play the screen is used to have pictures and words that correlate to what is happening on the stage. In this particular scene(one) the screen it states, “Ou sont les neiges,” which means, “Where are the snows of yesteryear. ” This is referring to how Amanda is stuck in the past, and wants things to be back to the way they were in, “yesteryear. ” This is a continuous theme in her life.

Finally, the character of Jim O’Connor is a representation of the present. Jim O’Conner is obviously the only character that the audience can fully relate too, in the sense that he is fully living for the time period of now. Jim is the most ordinary, honest and friendly character. He is in fact, the only character that is able to get through to Laura. It seems as though he is the only one that even tries to understand her, this makes him a very compassionate person. Jim’s character is introduced when Laura talks about him at the beginning of The Glass Menagerie.

He ends up only being a two scene character, and he does not come into the play until scene six. However, he comes in to real play in scene seven. This is the scene with just Jim and Laura. As I mentioned before Jim is the only character to get through to Laura. In scene seven, the two characters are talking, and of course Laura brings up high school. They talk about how she needs to be more confident, and Jim talks about her beauty. They dance, and it ends up leading to them kissing. After that Jim reveals that he is actually engaged, and this shows the audience that Jim is not perfect.

Everything up to that made Jim seem like he was the only sane character. That is not exactly the case. Jim’s character reminds me of the kind of person that acts on impulse. This is why his character is so based on the present. To conclude, this play is indeed a memory play for many reasons. Not only is it a memory play, but each and every character perceives each memory and each period of time in their very own way. In the end, each character stands for the past, the present, or the future. Many of the characters stand for multiple time periods.


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