Customer Reviews for

The Glass Menagerie

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Intellectually stimulating

Representing the emotional need to escape reality, especially in the turmoil of the Great Depression, Tennessee Williams describes a family of disconnected members each affected by a different. As Amanda continues to dwell in her earlier glories, her two kids struggle t...
Representing the emotional need to escape reality, especially in the turmoil of the Great Depression, Tennessee Williams describes a family of disconnected members each affected by a different. As Amanda continues to dwell in her earlier glories, her two kids struggle to flee from an unpleasant truth through other desperate means. While Tom interests himself with literature and movies, Laura remains preoccupied with maintaining her glass menagerie. In a sense, all three strive to escape the "coffin" that represents their mundane lives.

Williams effectively captures the emotions of that era, addressing the absence of Mr. Wingfield and its impact on the mental state of the family. Two prevalent motivations for abandoning a family-the battle for self-preservation and the shame of failing loved ones-are subtly presented throughout the course of this play, as the financial instability of the Wingfields suggest a need for new beginnings. This accurately reflects the chaos of the 1930s, as love, a supposedly universal weapon, fails to save the day.

Combining artistic mastery with heart-wrenching content, Williams employs a lyrical style that uses symbolism to convey loss and longing. Specifically, Tom's final monologue equates Laura to a "shattered rainbow," describing not only her frailty, but also his undying love for his helpless sister. With a distinctly melancholic tone, Williams conveys a sense of unresolved conflict and profound nostalgia.

More prominent than the overall emotional impact is the ironic way in which Williams unites the family under the desire to escape. Bereft of both materialistic belongings and faith in the future, the Wingfields are held together by their common need for change. Ultimately, Tom succeeds in his endeavor, and it is suggested that, despite his remembrance of his sister, he is able to embark on a journey of self-discovery.

Williams eloquently expresses the pains of failed romance, but fails to present any real hope for the future. In a sense, Laura's fiasco with her love interest bleeds through to negatively impact all those around her. No shift or memorable conclusion is presented, and I feel as though the overall moral could have better been developed differently. While Tom does manage to break free from his familial obligations, he does so to follow in the footsteps of his father, not purely out of a desire for self-fulfillment. Through the development of distinct personalities, Williams emphasizes that, in spite of our differences, human beings all seek the same seemingly elusive happiness.

posted by Guacamole on June 11, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

I didn't like this-at all!

The play format makes it hard to follow. I never saw anything in the story related to a glass menagerie except for a very slight mention. The only good thing about this play to me was that it was pretty short. Definitely not for a younger audience. It's not a pleasu...
The play format makes it hard to follow. I never saw anything in the story related to a glass menagerie except for a very slight mention. The only good thing about this play to me was that it was pretty short. Definitely not for a younger audience. It's not a pleasure to read it.

posted by k_j_9_7 on January 8, 2012

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  • Posted June 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Intellectually stimulating

    Representing the emotional need to escape reality, especially in the turmoil of the Great Depression, Tennessee Williams describes a family of disconnected members each affected by a different. As Amanda continues to dwell in her earlier glories, her two kids struggle to flee from an unpleasant truth through other desperate means. While Tom interests himself with literature and movies, Laura remains preoccupied with maintaining her glass menagerie. In a sense, all three strive to escape the "coffin" that represents their mundane lives.

    Williams effectively captures the emotions of that era, addressing the absence of Mr. Wingfield and its impact on the mental state of the family. Two prevalent motivations for abandoning a family-the battle for self-preservation and the shame of failing loved ones-are subtly presented throughout the course of this play, as the financial instability of the Wingfields suggest a need for new beginnings. This accurately reflects the chaos of the 1930s, as love, a supposedly universal weapon, fails to save the day.

    Combining artistic mastery with heart-wrenching content, Williams employs a lyrical style that uses symbolism to convey loss and longing. Specifically, Tom's final monologue equates Laura to a "shattered rainbow," describing not only her frailty, but also his undying love for his helpless sister. With a distinctly melancholic tone, Williams conveys a sense of unresolved conflict and profound nostalgia.

    More prominent than the overall emotional impact is the ironic way in which Williams unites the family under the desire to escape. Bereft of both materialistic belongings and faith in the future, the Wingfields are held together by their common need for change. Ultimately, Tom succeeds in his endeavor, and it is suggested that, despite his remembrance of his sister, he is able to embark on a journey of self-discovery.

    Williams eloquently expresses the pains of failed romance, but fails to present any real hope for the future. In a sense, Laura's fiasco with her love interest bleeds through to negatively impact all those around her. No shift or memorable conclusion is presented, and I feel as though the overall moral could have better been developed differently. While Tom does manage to break free from his familial obligations, he does so to follow in the footsteps of his father, not purely out of a desire for self-fulfillment. Through the development of distinct personalities, Williams emphasizes that, in spite of our differences, human beings all seek the same seemingly elusive happiness.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2013

    Awful

    So boring... One of the worst books I ever read. I understood where the author TRIED symbolism, but it always was ineffective or simply fell short. I can find better in a YA novel. The biggest problem: NOTHING EVER HAPPENED. Not one interesting thing. Don't bother looking for the needle of good literature in this haystack, because you'll be searching for a long, long time.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 8, 2012

    I didn't like this-at all!

    The play format makes it hard to follow. I never saw anything in the story related to a glass menagerie except for a very slight mention. The only good thing about this play to me was that it was pretty short. Definitely not for a younger audience. It's not a pleasure to read it.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 9, 2009

    The Glass Menagerie Review

    Although the Glass Menagerie served as the first breakthrough hit of Tennessee Williams' eventually booming play writing career, I can honestly attest to the fact that I believe that this play was mediocre at best. Granted, this play was all but shoved down my throat and I rarely enjoy books that are delivered in that way. However, this play, in spite of the fact that I actually chose to read it, mildly disappointed me, especially since I was rather thoroughly surprised by the fact that I had enjoyed A Streetcar Named Desire. This just proves to show that an author can have pretty severe discrepancies within his own works. Or maybe I'm just weird.
    The Glass Menagerie was too repetitive for my taste, with no actual true plot. With Tom's constant chatter about dreaming and Amanda's prattling endlessly about gentleman callers, it was enough to convey to me the gist of the entire play within the first few pages. The characters were, I found, ill-developed. I could never reason out a comprehensible and logical reason to explain Laura's actions. But then, maybe the illogicalness of her actions is supposed to convey a point also. Either way, I'm not a fan of the way she was portrayed, the manner in which the play panned out. Granted, this is not a play to watch/ read if you're in a sad mood, as the ending leaves much to be desired, serotonin-level wise.
    Similarly stagnant was the plot development. It seemed as if the plot were a wheel, centered around a single spoke and unable to branch out into anything else that made sense. I felt the play too heavily focused on the concept of gentleman callers to the point where I was not quite aware of the fact that Amanda was supposed to portray a Southern belle incarnate. With so much emphasis on the gentleman caller, I expected a longer interaction with one when Jim finally waltzed onto the stage. However, like much else in the play, it remained disproportionate and rather awkwardly fitted in. The lack of other characters in the play, with only three main ones also hinder any potential character development the three leads could have potentially had.
    However, the symbolism present within the play was most artfully carried out. The whole shpeal with the unicorn and the horn tie in absolutely wonderfully with the idea of normalcy and fantasy, which actually correlates nicely with the overall play and the themes presented within it. I also thoroughly enjoy Williams' style and the dialogue between Amanda and Tom are, in my opinion very believable, in that they mirror the conversations that go on between my own brother and mother at times. At times, also, I found the play surprisingly just purely entertaining. These things kept the general air of pointlessness in the play to a basic minimum.
    Overall, this tale of escapism and failing to do so proves not to be a terrible read, though not nearly as entertaining as other works by the same author. Poignant symbolism and realistic dialogue save this play from fading away with ill development in plot and character.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2005

    Not recommended if you actually enjoy reading

    I had to read this book for english. Let me inforce the had, if it wasn't an assignment I wouldn't have finished the first page. Williams has a horribly boring writing technique. A play entirely made of symbols is ridiculous! Symbols are ok here and there but honestly, don't whine to us about your life.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2005

    Boring

    This book is so simplistic. The characters are so easy to hate because they are all so ridiculous. The book does not really have a point. It just winds on til it reaches a stupid ending. If you're looking for a book to enjoy, do not even consider this one

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2003

    Tennessee examines the frailty of familial relationships beautifully

    In the glass menagerie Tennessee Williams has created Tom a young man thrust into the working world to support his his family, leaving him no time to pursue his passion for writing. intriguingly enough this exact situation befell Williams when he was young and Williams real first name was Tom. Yes Tom's character is amazingly developed and a dream to any young actor, but the character of Amanda his overbearing mother is also superb. She is a metaphor in the play for lost dreams and regret and she is stunning in this role. then there is Laura Tom's lame sister who as a guard from the cruelties of the world has shut herself away in a world of fantasy where she collects her little glass figurines fragile yet beautiful. In his opening monologue Tom states that this is a memory play and that is exactly what it is a play which reveals Tennessee's own memories of times past which just like the glass are fragile yet beautiful. in another monologue Tom says he saw a magician nail himself in a coffin and get out without removing one nail, and anyone can get nailed in but to get out without removing one nail that's amazing, this one line sums up all the themes of this play, and it is why I consider Williams the greatest modern playwright.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 1999

    THE TRUTH

    I read this book for my Literary Criticism Class. The Glass Menagerie was very realistic and it did protrayed its characters in a very rialistic way, but the play didn't have a point. Yes, it was a family with problems, but almost every book has a point to it, but this one doesn't have something that makes it interesting or even good. TO be honest, I actually thought it was going ot be good almost at the end, but Tom cma back, so what was the Point? I think that Williams should have taken more time at making the play. I can't really criticize Tennesee Williams for I have not reas any of his other books.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2014

    I actually like it!!

    I don't know why all the negagivity! I'm a high school senior reading this for summer reading; I think it's smart, quick, and fairly easy. The characters are not flat at all, on the contrary, you can tell tons about them in the first few pages and quickly form opinions about them. Like I mentioned, its short and in play format so its a refreshing read. I totally recommend. :)

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  • Posted May 16, 2014

    ¿The Glass Menagerie¿, a play by Tennessee Williams follows the

    “The Glass Menagerie”, a play by Tennessee Williams follows the clash of a small family’s internal conflicts. Each character, Tom, Laura, and Amanda, have an emotional conflict which calls for each to long for something more than what they’re currently capable of. The play’s writing style is cleverly structured to insist the reader analyze each character, especially Tom; since the play is told from his memory. The play’s structure adds deeper meaning to the text and adds to the works literary merit. Characterization is based off of each character’s emotional flaw. The theme of the play is to not underestimate yourself and dwell on your flaws. 

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  • Posted May 15, 2014

    Tennessee Williams¿ A Glass Menagerie is about a young man n





    Tennessee Williams’ A Glass Menagerie is about a young man named Tom who is unhappy and unsatisfied with his life at home and at his work. He desires to become a writer and is fond of writing poetry. All the while, his mother Amanda is a nagging and controlling woman who only desires the best for Tom and her daughter Laura. However, she attempts to live her past through Laura to compensate for what she has left in life, since her husband abandoned the family. Laura, Tom’s sister and Amanda’s daughter, is also unhappy with her life because she struggles to behave normally with her leg disability. She is constantly reminded that she has a flaw, a defect, which distorts the image of her in a severe manner. This play is different from the rest because Tom, the main character, actually breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience. In the beginning, he tells his listeners that he cannot be trusted because what he will tell them is from his memory. Furthermore, because this is a memory play, it seems as though Tom is the director who sets the events in a hazy and cloudy atmosphere. One of the themes that applies to the play is that sometimes what a person desires is not available to him or her, so he or she must take action and change his or her life path. This makes sense when analyzing Tom’s character.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2014

    The Glass Menagerie really is a fantastic play. That being said,

    The Glass Menagerie really is a fantastic play. That being said, most reviews on this website are from the perspective of those who have no intention of actually SEEING the play performed. I myself have recently seen the play on Broadway starring Cherry Jones, Zachary Quinto, Celia Keenan-Bolger, and Brian J. Smith, so reading the play afterwords was obviously much more enjoyable. If you plan on seeing the play in the theatre,  I recommend  reading the play afterwords, as it completely changes your perspective (and, honestly, makes it much clearer). For those who haven't seen it, or don't plan on seeing it, I can understand how it might come across as dull in text format, but keep in mind it WAS written as a script, and therefore much of the emotion and vision is to be displayed by the actors.

    Williams writes with a lot of emotion, so while there might not be a definite 'point' to the play, it effectively tells the story of an unusual family and their struggle with seemingly ordinary ideas. The conflict, love, hatred, etc. shown by Tom, Laura, and Amanda is written very clearly, but I honestly think that the reader's mindset going into the text version makes all the difference.

     

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  • Posted February 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Lovely

    The Glass Menagerie was a very gentle, beautiful story. Beautiful is exactly the word I would use to describe it because it was so so sweet. Laura was especially sweet. Although I did find her shyness a bit too extreme at times, I still appreciated the gentleness and tenderness with which she cared for her glass animals and the love with which she looks at her family and the world around her. Despite her being 24 years old, in my mind I would picture her as a very young, innocent, shy and beautiful little girl, not older than 20.

    Something else I have to comment on is the plot twist at the end. I did not see it coming and I was shocked with what was revealed. While reading the scene I felt so happy and hopeful for Laura that I was smiling and suddenly i was like "what? what? WHAT?". To quote Amanda (Laura's mother) "Things have a way of turning out so badly" and may I add so unexpectedly.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 6, 2010

    Great Title

    I loved the symbolism and the references of real-life problems to objects. I also like the way conflicts were addressed and solved. This was a great title.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 25, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The Glass Menagerie

    This book is good. It could have been better because it's plot is kind of off, but it's a sweet small read to discover when you are lonely. The greatest symbolism throughout the book is that the girl becomes as fragile as her beautiful glass menagerie. It's a sad sweet little play that is fun to act out, and the scenary is great. Tom and his sister are so different that it makes the play more fun, yet sad.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    short play

    this is a short play. i really enjoyed the whole symbolism behind the meaning of Laura's unicorn. this was a quick read but the large vocab. can have some baffled.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2009

    very nice

    pretty good i gave it to my sister so she seemed to really enjoy it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2008

    The Glass Menagerie is a classic Williams work

    The Glass Menagerie is a part of my English AP summer reading assignment, and unlike past summer books, I can say that I truly enjoyed it. Williams's writing technique is beautiful he uses symbols, repetition, and motifs throughout of the play to embody his theme. The Glass Menagerie shows the audience that beauty is fragile, and in order to protect it, one must treat it with extreme love and care. I am quite lost as to why the book is under the Gay and Lesbian book heading. Did I miss something huge? I don't believe so. I would suggest this book to anyone, because it truly engaged my mind. It was also a very quick and easy read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2008

    LOVED THIS BOOK

    I loved this play so much that I read the whole play. But I think this play is the best play ever written. If this wasn't for a grade I wouldn't have read it but when I did read it i loved it so much that I am reading it over again!!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2006

    my favorite book/play/anythingwithwords

    i love this play. i had to read it for english class and i can honestly say i loved it, and considering im a teenager, that tells you the work is good. i dont usually like older books but i absolutely fell in love with the glass menagerie. its really great once you get into it and let yourself become one of the characters, but i guess since i had to act it that came easy for me. i dont recommend immature readers to even TOUCH the book though, because honestly they just wont get it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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