The Glass Menagerie

The Glass Menagerie

3.8 56
by Tennessee Williams
     
 

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No play in the modern theatre has so captured the imagination and heart of the American public as Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie.Menagerie was Williams's first popular success and launched the brilliant, if somewhat controversial, career of our pre-eminent lyric playwright. Since its premiere in Chicago in 1944, with the legendary Laurette Taylor in the

Overview

No play in the modern theatre has so captured the imagination and heart of the American public as Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie.Menagerie was Williams's first popular success and launched the brilliant, if somewhat controversial, career of our pre-eminent lyric playwright. Since its premiere in Chicago in 1944, with the legendary Laurette Taylor in the role of Amanda, the play has been the bravura piece for great actresses from Jessica Tandy to Joanne Woodward, and is studied and performed in classrooms and theatres around the world. The Glass Menagerie (in the reading text the author preferred) is now available only in its New Directions Paperbook edition. A new introduction by prominent Williams scholar Robert Bray, editor of The Tennessee Williams Annual Review, reappraises the play more than half a century after it won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award: "More than fifty years after telling his story of a family whose lives form a triangle of quiet desperation, Williams's mellifluous voice still resonates deeply and universally." This edition of The Glass Menagerie also includes Williams's essay on the impact of sudden fame on a struggling writer, "The Catastrophe of Success," as well as a short section of Williams's own "Production Notes." The cover features the classic line drawing by Alvin Lustig, originally done for the 1949 New Directions edition.

Editorial Reviews

Lyle Leverich in Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams
“With the advent of The Glass Menagerie . . . Tennessee Williams emerged as a poet-playwright and a unique new force in theatre throughout the world.”
Lyle Leverich in Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Wil
“With the advent of The Glass Menagerie . . . Tennessee Williams emerged as a poet-playwright and a unique new force in theatre throughout the world.”
The New York Times
“Delicate and perceptive, The Glass Menagerie inhabits a half-world between comedy and tragedy.”
Arthur Miller
“Seeing The Glass Menagerie was like stumbling on a flower in a junkyard—Williams had pushed language and character to the front of the stage as never before.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811214049
Publisher:
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
06/17/1999
Edition description:
Revised
Pages:
104
Sales rank:
16,345
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.36(d)

Meet the Author

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) is the acclaimed author of many books of letters, short stories, poems, essays, and a large collection of plays, including The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Camino Real, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Orpheus Descending, The Night of the Iguana, and The Rose Tattoo.

Robert Bray is an author, editor, and Tennessee Williams scholar.

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The Glass Menagerie 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
Guacamole More than 1 year ago
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.
TGU More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Trixiedoodle More than 1 year ago
I had to read this play (and two others) for a class and this one is by far my favorite. This play left such a good impression on me that I will definitely read some of his other plays.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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. :)
emariscal More than 1 year ago
“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. 
TaniyaB More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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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