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Trampled Dreams

Essay by 24  •  December 27, 2010  •  2,467 Words (10 Pages)  •  539 Views

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Trampled Dreams

Tennessee William's, The Glass Menagerie, tells the stories of three characters, their aspirations and goals, the challenges they strive to overcome, and the upsets that they are forced to confront. The play opens with a gentleman standing in a poorly lit alley wearing all dark clothing. The faint sounds of a train passing through can be heard in the background. As the train fades away, the sounds from Tom Wingfield’s footsteps can be heard in the distance. Tom, who is played by Sam Waterston, works in a shoe factory but dreams of living a more adventurous lifestyle; one that does not consist of St. Louis. In order to pursue his dream, he abandons his family just as his father did before him. His sister Laura, played by Joanna Miles, is different than most girls her age. She “lives in a world of her own… in a world of glass animals.” She is also ashamed of her abnormality, which is a result of her being born with one leg slightly shorter than the other. As a result, she hides in her mother’s apartment all day to shield herself from the brutal truths of the real world. Their mother Amanda, played by Kathryn Hepburn, was jilted by her husband several years earlier. The only thing they have left of his is a photograph they leave hanging on the wall as a constant reminder of how they are the remnants of a broken home. Countless symbols are used in the play which helps to build the story. The glass unicorn, the most unique animal out of the entire glass menagerie, is the central symbol. The coffin by which a magician escapes from during one of his acts is yet another symbol. Tom's sister Laura represents despair, broken dreams, and weakness. However, her nickname represents her unique yet enthralling disposition. Candles and moonlight are used several times throughout the play to represent possible hope. Williams masterfully used these symbols and several others to create a remarkable play that tells the story of disheartenment, abandonment, and unsuccessful endeavors for escape.

Unicorns are unique creates. They are often seen as magical, mystifying, and a rarity. When the glass unicorn in The Glass Menagerie first appears, it is shown at a camera angle to suggest its mystical nature. Anthony Harvey, the director of the play, focuses the cameras on the unicorn to make it appear dream-like as if to hint to the audience that this object will play a vital role later on in the story. Surely enough, the unicorn does. We see how important these glass creatures are to Laura because of how careful she is with each of the animals; especially the unicorn. When her brother Tom accidentally breaks one of the animals, the scene is dramatized by spotlighting Laura’s face to show her heartbreak for the animal. It is as if she lives her life through these creatures and once one of them breaks, a piece of her is broken along with it. Similar to the unicorn, Laura "lives in a world of her own….and are [is] peculiar lonesome creatures.” Other than Tom, Laura really doesn’t have any friends. She invests all of her time “in a world of lil glass animals… (and) plays phonograph records.” When Jim accidentally broke the unicorn’s horn off, he took away the unicorn’s peculiarity. The unicorn became just another horse. Similarly, when Jim kissed Laura, he took away her uniqueness as well. She became just like any other girl. The broken unicorn represents all that she was and all that she will never be.

Like the music in the play, Laura is delicate, elegant, and pleasant. Whenever the scenes focus in on the glass menagerie, soft gentle music is heard playing in the background. The same music also plays when Laura vulnerability is the main focus. Amanda wanted her daughter to go to business school to become a business woman. Once she discovered that her daughter dropped out, she became set on finding her a gentlemen caller. While Laura is trying to explain to her mother that no gentlemen caller would want her, the same faint music is again heard playing in the setting. She explains to her mother that she is not as popular as her mother once was. In response, Amanda tells her daughter that women who don’t have what it takes to be a businesswomen get married; that she should “cultivate something else to take its place вЂ" like charm.” The lights on the set focus on a profile image of Laura’s face allowing viewers to see the disappointment she feels in herself. Amanda, standing only a foot behind her, is clearly upset and discouraged. The wrinkles and distress marks on her aged face are extremely visible here due to the lighting. It’s allows viewers to understand that the Wingfield’s have endured a great deal. The lines are an indication that they have experienced many hardships. Once again the gentle yet deafening music plays as the scene fades away. The choice of music that Harvey uses places emphasis on dramatic scenes to further dramatize the performance. The music is very closely connected with Laura’s emotions. Both are “pretty and sweet…. [and] somewhat peculiar.”

Tom yearned to escape reality, and he did so by going to the movies or out to the fire escape to smoke a cigarette. Tom obviously feels detestation concerning how he was living. When Amada goes to wake him up as she does every morning, he yells, “Every time you come in yelling that goddamn rise n’ shine! Rise n’ shine! I think to myself, вЂ?How lucky dead people are!” Just when he turns to leave he accidentally knocks over one of Laura’s glass figurines. Laura cries out when she sees this as if it were her that fell and not the animal. Tom turns to look at Laura in an apologetic way but Laura is already leaning on a piece of furniture hurt, as if a piece of her life was taken away from her at that very moment. Once again, Laura’s music plays as all the objects surrounding the glass menagerie fade away. All the focus is on Tom and Laura now. Laura is heart broken over the shattered piece of glass, and Tom knows this. The audience knows this too because of how the scene is set up. The lights are only focused on the two characters of importance. The music cues its viewers in to indicate to them the scene is significant. He then turned to escape the situation by going out the fire escape. While at the movies, Tom watched Malvolio the Magician perform magic tricks. “The wonderfullest trick of all was the coffin trick” because to Tom, it paralleled his life. In this

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