The Glass Menagerie is an explosion of ups and downs of navigating familiar relationships. Tom is a writer who goes back home and is hit with the reasons he left his family in the first place. Relationships are strained but they reveal some hidden and hurtful truths.
Mothers we have a responsibility to our children to develop in them what they need to be successful. We can’t drive them to success. We must find ways to encourage and listen and hear what is on the hearts of our children. Amanda has not gotten that message. She has gotten the message to ride the coat tails of her children, push them so much that they don’t succeed and then blame them for their inconstancies. Amanda was hard to take in. Amanda was hard to open up to because she is so unlike me as a mother and I hope like many mothers. We know the moms who push things too far. We hear their stories through the rebellion of their children. That is what Tom does. He does all he can to make his mother happy or at least entertain her mess until he leaves too. Laura on the other hand is being pushed but because of her disability she’s “stuck.”
Laura is not your typical young lady. She has developed a limp or even a very noticeable inability to walk without her rolling walker. She is shy and this shyness has been super devastating to her social life. She is registered in school as her mother Amanda thinks it’s a great thing for her to work or marry so she’s not considered “crippled” as she hates to use the word. More on that later. Laura is sheltered in every aspect but it’s more the inability to do and therefore she withdraws from the world around her and pays all of her attention to the Glass Menagerie. It’s what she finds solace in.
The brother who leaves like his dad because he can’t take the toll of having to do what his mom wants, his desire to not work in the factory and be a writer, etc. He is more verbal. He can help Laura escape but he doesn’t. This guilt follows him and will continue to follow him for quite some time as he travels. Tom took the brunt of the emotional abuse that his mom, Amanda gave. A part of me thinks a lot of that has to do with the fact that Tom could remind Amanda of his father. We know those women who take their angry out on the children and hopes to make them better than the no good father but instead turn them right into the father with their misplaced hate.
As I stated above she is a piece of work. I love the mirror that is plastered. Often times even when the gentleman friend Jim comes and fancies himself after Laura he too leaves since he’s spoken to. It’s Jim’s fault he would bring Laura a gentleman friend who couldn’t commit almost like that father…… There are a lot of come to Jesus moments in this play. I was sitting there more engulfed in their interaction and the fact that from the outside we see the break down but in the midst of it none of them sees the tearing down of their relationships. That’s how life is though! We see the breakdowns but if people aren’t able to see if for themselves there’s not much that can be done.
It made sense like a light bulb when I learned that the Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams was loosely about his own life. The scars we carry will show up in his work. I hope that this piece and his other pieces make some closure for him. The guilt of the sister he left behind to deal with his mother is prevalent in this play. It makes this piece more personable. I got it. I sat there trying to peel the layers. Layers that are too weighty to write. I could write a whole essay on this and have whole chapters. The weight of living under disappointment is very heavy and burdensome. The burden on all of them to figure how to deal was a like watching a soap opera. If you paid attention you could see so many nuggets of wisdom that we ALL need to pay close attention so that we can raise a new generation. There’s nothing new under the sun and there are still Amandas running around raising children. Jim still lives on in children who will never be good enough and have broken dreams unfulfilled. Laura and her disability and her lack of engagement I’ve seen in women who seem to lose sight on loving themselves every single day.
Check out The Glass Menagerie for yourself. See if you can spot the nuggets I didn’t even give you. Trust me these characters are walking amongst us daily. You can see it for yourself until February 2nd at the Phoenix Theatre. This production is directed by Michael Hajek and is beautifully flawed and uplifting. Thank you to the Phoenix Theatre and Carrie Gorn for the invitation.