Happiness vs. Responsibility The Glass Menagerie, written by Tennessee Williams brings forward the question as to whether one has the right to be happy by giving up important responsibilities. Tom Wingfield is a character in the play that must face this moral dilemma. He is being driven crazy by his mother's constant nagging and dissatisfaction with his every action. However, he feels it is his duty to provide for his mother and sister, while at the same time is giving up his aspirations and dreams. His mother does not appreciate what he sacrifices for them. In fact she often tells him that he is self-centered. Tom is very unsatisfied with his life as a factory worker and starts thinking about leaving home and abandoning his family in return for the pursuit of happiness.
Happiness is a very important aspect to life. It could be said that happiness is what makes life worth living.
Responsibility to others is also very important because it is what makes humans able to coexist. If no one took responsibility for others than children would not have caring parents, people could not trust each other, and love could not exist. Analytically speaking, responsibility to others is more important to the function of society as a whole than personal happiness. However to a single person, happiness generally seems to be more important than responsibility. An unhappy person that spends their entire life being burdened by the responsibility of another person might as well be a slave.
In the case of Tom Wingfield, leaving his family's home in search of happiness was an appropriate and understandable action. This is because his mother was so unrealistic in her expectations of him as well as extremely critical that it was self-destructive for him to stay in such an environment for any longer. His sister Laura was around twenty-four years old and should be able to take care of herself and Amanda, the mother, having only herself to look after should be fine as well. In the play Tom compares himself with his father who walked out on his family. This however, is not a fair analogy. Someone who is in their early twenties without a wife or kids should not have the same amount of responsibility as that of an older man who decided to have a family. It is completely unfair to expect Tom to give up all of his desires to support his family members, both of whom are younger than him and physically able to support themselves. Tom had to make a difficult decision, but the fight at the end of the play exacerbated the ailing relationship Tom had with his mother Amanda. This fight understandably was the last straw for Tom, and it was at this point that he parted ways with his family to seek and new and more satisfying life.