Critical analysis of the opening scene of The Glass Menagerie
By Tennessee Williams.
The main functions of an opening scene are to obtain the audience or reader's attention, introduce the characters and prepare the audience for later events in the play.
The Glass Menagerie starts with extensive stage directions about how the set should look, and information about the period the play is set in. The stage directions are full of metaphors concerning imprisonment and escape, also non-individuality. Tennessee Williams uses metaphors throughout the play to help to describe the scene or situation. When describing the Wingfield's apartment Williams uses the term 'vast hive-like conglomerations.' This suggests the inhabitants of these buildings are like worker bees, lacking individuality. A 'fundamentally enslaved section of American society' who operate as one. It is the first mention of a main symbol in the play. Another would be the fire escape, which Tom wishes to uses to escape his life and the 'fires of human desperation.'
Tom is the first character we are introduced to. He is both the narrator and a character in the play. In Tom's opening speech he talks about the period in which the play is set and how America is going through the Great Depression. This mention of something outside the action of the play is used to demonstrate how the troubles of the Wingfield's fits into the troubles of the wider world. The Wingfields, like the rest of American society are choosing to ignore the Depression and the threat of the imminent war. Hence Tom's suggestion that America was 'matriculating in a school for the blind.'
Tom introduces the other characters, which includes his mother Amanda, who shows her unrealistic approach to life immediately. Her retraction into her past life in the 'Blue Mountains' and her seventeen...