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The Glass Menagerie Title Meaning

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1283 words Published: 6th Jul 2017

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Even though the family’s relationship towards one another in “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams is both dysfunctional, and questionable you begin to see a deeper meaning to which the title of the story foreshadows. The story begins with the family having supper. As this dinner continues we learn that they are in a single parent household with a mother, Amanda, who is stuck in her youth, a son, Tom, who is trying to separate himself from the dysfunction of his mother, and a daughter, Laura, who has a physical handicap that hinders her from taking part in normal activities including interacting with people. But as the story moves along Laura is somewhat broken out of her shell, Tom moves out, and Amanda develops a closer relationship with her daughter. The title “The Glass Menagerie” seems to suggest transparency, fragileness, and special attention and care which describe exactly what this family is and needs. Reading the play and basing it in relations to the title it is clear that the title has more meaning then meets first glance. Some may argue that the title has no relation what so ever to the play because of things like, who is the mains character? and how the title does not help in defining the underline meaning of the play? These points may very well be true but the question is asked, why is “The Glass Menagerie” a good title? The glass menagerie is a good title because it leaves a certain mystery to the story, it suggests deeper aspects to the characters in relation to life, and it gives depth to the characters.

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 In the story there is a scene between Tom and Amanda when they are having a confrontation about Tom and where he goes when he leaves home after work. As the argument is escalading Laura’s class menagerie breaks. Glass is both fragile and delicate which seems to describe Tom and his mother’s relationship, and the breaking of the glass comes at a time when there own relationship cracks. The mystery is why this glass? Why the glass menagerie at this particular time? The suggestive mystery would seem to be the fact they are in some ways like the glass animals and are in cased in a glass case making them venerable, fragile and easily broken. The titles mystery is not just towards the character’s weakness, but the mystery of the titles relation to life.

It is clear to point out the irrelevance of Amanda’s Scarlett O’Hara attitude, tom’s get away attitude, and Laura’s over the top shyness, but there behaviors are not totally irrelevant to real life. At the beginning of the play Tom says “I reverse it to that quaint period, the thirties, when the huge middle class of America was matriculating in a school for the blind.”(282-83) Tom gave insight to a time period when the economy is struggling due to the great depression. Life in that time was harder, and for Amanda being the only parent in her household it was even tougher. Her reverting back to her past is not at all for fetched or uncommon. Humans tend to go back to happier times in there lives so they are able to cope with the present. All the characters found ways to cope with there situations whether it was skipping school or going to the movies. Laura’s defect gave her server introversion that most people suffer from, especially those in her position, and Tom’s itch to get out of the nest stems from him getting older and not being able to experience what young men his age do. The weak time period and the fragileness of the economy fit the title and its relevance to life and add a certain depth to each character.

The underline meaning of the title helps to add depth to the characters. With out the title the play and its characters would be just that, characters. Because the play uses real life situations it makes it easier to relate to the characters and actually understand each of them. Tom says at the end of the story “I didn’t go to the moon, I went much further-for time is the longest distance between places.”(329) By Tom saying this it shows that these characters are deep and aspire for more then given. By Tom being the narrator he represents all the characters and there insight of how they perceive the world around them. As the play comes to an end you see the characters evolve from being associated from being in a glass case to finding there way out of that enclosure. “The Glass Menagerie” is no longer a relic or just a title about a glass case, but instead a window into the characters lives.

Even through “The Glass Menagerie” is a great title for such a deep play. Some would not agree that “The Glass Menagerie” is a good title. Amanda’s fascination with the past, Laura’s “inferiority complex” (321), and Tom’s urge to get out is as transparent as the title and is simple as deep as either of the characters get. This could be understood to be true because this family obviously has been this way for quit sometime and there depth cannot be seen pass there ways. Although they seem to not be as deep or as transparent as the title suggest, still there are moments where you are inclined to believe that there is more to them. You see that Amanda’s reasoning’s to live in the pass is based on her present and because of that she wants her kids have better lives then she has. Toms unhappiest causes him to write poems, and narrate the play so we are able to understand and know what the family’s current situation is about and could find a relation to them and our own lives. Laura’s shyness and her blossoming at the end of the play shows how much more she is as a character and how she is the most important figure in what the title has to do with the play. The more you begin to look out side the box and the more you look at the play for meaning instead of logic the more you see that the title is more interesting then any other title put in it’s place.

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Tennessee Williams takes a look into the world of an under class family in the 1930’s who have many issue that they may or may not be aware of, and puts it in the fore front so that the readers can feel what these characters feel. He has a mother play both parents because of their broken household and gives her an outlet from her current situation which is recapturing her youth. He brings forth a son who sees his broken family and cannot help or fight the urge to get away so he retreats to watch movies or to drink, and a daughter who is physically handicap and is letting this disability whole her back for becoming the women she should be, and the beauty she should feel. These characters give insight to what is real and ultimately the end to happily ever after. But for this to be bought to anyone’s attention the title of the story has to be up to pare with what the author is trying to accomplish, and the point that is trying to be proven. Though some argue that choosing “The Glass Menagerie” as the title of this play gives no meaning to what the plays message truly is, this title makes perfect sense. We are quick to judge what we do not understand therefore to some it would not, but this title goes beyond just words and focus on the meaning. “The Glass Menagerie” means glass is easily broken, can have cracks, and makes even the tiniest flaws visible, but it can always be repaired. What we see looking in is not what’s really going on, but it is what is done to break that glass and let that something out is what’s more important.



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