The Glass Menagerie Essays

Introduction for Essay

The Glass Menagerie is a play written by Tennessee Williams in 1945 and soon reached Broadway theaters, later turned into an acclaimed recorded film. This story is very much a product of its time – written just six years following the worldwide economic depression. Williams captures the struggling hardship of living in a single low-income household, and his characters are described as stagnant, isolated, and unhappy. The main characters are Tom Wingfield, his mother Amanda, and his sister Laura. In many ways, each character of The Glass Menagerie seeks perfection as they collectively fantasize about a better future.

The Wingfields live a monotonous life, but the family has an imaginative spirit of hope that gives them a sense of purpose for living. Existentialists would agree that their versions of reality give each character a way to cope with their meaningless lives. Each copes with reality in their own personal way, more often in a nostalgic state of mind. This entire play is interpreted and narrated from Tom’s memory and is an inspiring reflection on how humans react to indigent situations. This essay seeks to address any selfish allegations against Tom for deserting his mother and sister in order to pursue a better life for himself. In my opinion, Tom is a visionary who was brave enough to act on his dreams in order to live an adventurous life.

Research Paper on The Glass Menagerie

The Wingfields are a lower-middle-class family, and each member appears to have a good level of education as they use sophisticated conversations. Tom is a High School graduate, and he has an inclination for literature, as his nickname at the warehouse is Shakespeare. Tom Wingfield is the main character, and he is the only man in his household. His parents are separated since his father abandoned his responsibilities of taking care of his family, and now he travels the world. In post-war times it was very common that adolescent males of a family would “step up” to support their family since many War World II soldiers passed away and left behind their families. Amanda sees her unmarried daughter Laura as an economic burden as she cannot make enough salary to fully support herself.

Argumentative Essay Examples on The Glass Menagerie

Tom feels suffocated with his duties at home, to not only earn an income at the warehouse but also to be the backbone of his emotionally unstable mother, who lives in an illusion that is overly optimistic about the future of her daughter.

Amanda Wingfield refuses to accept the fact that her daughter Laura is crippled, slightly antisocial, and lacks charm. She lives in false hopes, praying that gentlemen callers appear on their doorstep to sweep Laura off her feet. Amanda appears to have several regrets in her life, and she fondly shares memories that she was once courted by a premature millionaire. She dwells on the decision to choose their father just on the fact that he is charming. Her husband deserted her with two children, and I know that it is undeniably hard raising two kids as a single parent.

Amanda deserves more credit than given; I can only imagine that she felt empty and betrayed. There’s no way that she would imagine a life like hers for herself. This is why she escapes into a fantasy version of the world and how – she thinks it should be. Amanda is a very loving mother, although her mothering is extreme, and some might perceive her as an overly critical, nagging monster. Tom is the youngest sibling, and yet he is the toughest, making him the focal point of all his mother’s remarks, suffocating him enough to want to leave.

Tom constantly escapes to his fire escape for peace of mind and smoke since he feels the lack of harmony inside his home. Contributing from my own personal experience, juggling classwork and earning an income is certainly not easy to do, so when I go home, I expect to be utterly comfortable. His mother calls him selfish for going to the movies every night; I cannot blame Tom for wanting a moment of solitude and casual excitement. In the movies, his subconscious escapes into the lives of the action-adventure characters on the screen, almost implying that he lives a double life. However, this is a false and temporary form of escape since once the movies are over, he returns back to his mundane life. Tom’s misery begins to take control, and he begins to desire to mimic his father’s impulses of actually physically escaping. He is aware that his mother and sister will greatly suffer without his presence, but he is still willing to follow after his instances to leave for a chance of his own survival.

Thesis Statement for The Glass Menagerie

Existentialism originated in the 1900s, and the theory focuses on the existence of humans and their pursuit of meaning – as there is no set definite meaning to life. Jean-Paul is a key philosopher of existentialism, and he lectures that “the only purpose is for Man is to find his own meaning.” Tom was clearly not living to his purpose as he was following the more utilitarian approach, which promoted greater happiness. Tom should not suffer the consequences of his father’s actions; he is a young man, and existentialists would encourage that he has a right to discover his purpose. Instead, Tom willingly conforms to a restless routine working at the shoe factory to earn a $ 65-a-month salary for the benefit of his family.

He resents taking over his “father’s” responsibilities, and although it continues to stifle his creative spirit, he continues to work every day. For these reasons, I think that Tom is a “stand-up” guy and should not get attacked from a utilitarian standpoint. This theory argues that every action should be made for the well-being of the greater good, even if it causes suffering to one person. This rationality classifies Tom’s actions of leaving home as selfish and egotistical. Tom is like many of us, who romanticize a better future for ourselves – he took necessary action towards his future. Existentialist theories support Tom’s reasons for leaving as sensible and practical action as he is a young man following his birthright to the pursuit of happiness.

Consequences of Tom’s Departure and His Guilt

Tom seized the opportunity to leave, and Ironically, his final speech conveys a shameful regret of abandoning his family. There are poetic fallacies throughout this play, and it suggests that the entire memory of leaving his family overshadows the joy of choosing his dreams to indulge in a life of adventure. This play was vastly entertaining and insightful for me to watch and read. I can personally relate to Tom’s emotions, and I believe that if his mother would remain calm and been a little bit more understanding of his hobbies, Tom would have probably supported them longer. In my opinion, Amanda’s cynical commentary madness drove her husband and her son to their limits, which is why both ran away from her. Laura is too frail and distracted by the glass menagerie collection to aspire to leave her mother.

In the final scene, I think that Tom feels relieved of leaving the dreadful cycle at home, although he feels ashamed and displays remorse. This makes it clear that his act of leaving wasn’t selfish. He didn’t intend to abandon his family, but his intellect, dreams, and creativity were slowly drifting away. Tom realized that he needed to protect his vision and save himself. This was an act of self-preservation; he knew that if he stayed, he would not evolve and continue to live a resentful meaningless life. It is absolutely necessary that we all live with purpose, even if that means disconnecting from any pessimistic family members.


In conclusion, I defend Tom from being criticized on any selfish moral grounds. He is courageous, and sometimes we all need to be T.O.M. (Tough Over Morals). Buddha says that “Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.” Amanda is too prideful with her illusions to help her daughter Laura from being incapacitated to interact with society. I think that it was best for Tom to leave; his actions caused a reaction from Amanda and Laura to wake up from their fantasies to handle their problems.

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