Illusions and denial in "The Glass Managerie" by Tennessee Williams

Essay by digitaldivaUniversity, Bachelor's March 2003

download word file, 2 pages 5.0

As human beings we all indulge in illusions and escape mechanisms. In "The Glass Menagerie" Tennessee Williams presents us with a family that exhibits this very human tendency to escape reality and avoid unhappiness. Unfortunately in the end, we see that for the Wingfield family these survival mechanisms can be more destructive than helpful.

Amanda Wingfield, the mother, lives in the popularity of her past. She is a single mother living in poverty during the Great Depression with two adult children. Yet she continues to think and behave as if she were the pampered southern belle of her childhood. She repeatedly tells the same stories, especially one about a "Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain... when she received seventeen gentlemen callers". Her home displays a life size photo of the husband that abandoned the family many years before as if he is the honorable husband and patriarch. She behaves like a flirtatious southern belle and dresses inappropriately in the outfits of her youth.

Because she does not realistically deal with her present circumstances she also does not realistically deal with her children's problems. Through her denial and nagging, she damages her children psychologically with unrealistic expectations and lack of emotional support for their present situations. In the end, she never improves her life or theirs.

Tom Wingfield, the son, is the family's sole financial support except for the little extra money Amanda makes by selling magazine subscriptions. He hates his boring life and his job at a shoe warehouse, and is yearning for a life of literature and adventure. Despite his lack of interest in business, Amanda cajoles him daily to take business courses and become a businessman, an occupation he has neither the interest nor talent for. He escapes from his work life by writing poetry in the bathroom and...