A Biographical Analysis of The Glass Menagerie and Tennessee Williams It’s apparent in the play and the life of Tennessee Williams that he was, in fact, writing about himself and his family when he wrote The Glass Menagerie. The Glass Menagerie was the first success of Tennessee Williams career. He says in the beginning of the play, ”I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion” (Williams 47). The characters Tom, Laura, and Amanda are very much like Williams, his sister Rose, and his mother Edwina.
We are able to see this when we look into Tennessee Williams’ life. Tom, the narrator, can be viewed as himself, Thomas Lanier Williams. There are many similarities between his life and his character Tom’s life. These similarities can be found in his actions, the actions in the life of his family. First we look at Tennessee Williams life, and how it is very identical to the life of the character Tom. “He is the narrator, an undisguised invention of the play. He takes whatever license with dramatic convention as is convenient to his purposes.
I am the narrator of the play, and also a character in it. The other characters are my mother, Amanda, my sister, Laura. ” (Williams 47). Tom is the narrator, and the narrator is the one who tells the story, we can justify that Tom resembles Tennessee Williams. This means we can also relate Amanda to Williams mother Edwina Williams and Laura as his sister, Rose Williams. Tennessee Williams dropped out of high school when his father asked him to leave school to work in a warehouse. In the play, Tom also dropped out of school to work in a shoe factory.
Tom says,” Listen! You think I’m crazy about the warehouse! You think I’m in love with the Continental Shoemakers? You think I want to spend fifty-five years down there in that Celotex interior! With fluorescent tubes! Look! I’d rather somebody picked up a crowbar and battered out my brains than go back mornings! ” (Williams 56). Both Williams and Tom blamed their families for their horrible jobs and the lives they lived. Williams loved poetry and was his way of escaping the thought of his terrible job and depressing life. Tom is also a poet in our play. Jim knew of my secret practice of retiring to a cabinet of the washroom to work on poems when business was slack in the warehouse. He called me Shakespeare. ” (Williams 68). Both Tom and Williams wanted to get out of their real lives by playwright and poetry. Like Tom, Tennessee Williams left home to live in New Orleans when he was 28. Moreover, Tom is a little bit younger than this in the play. Tom leaves home in the end because it is holding him back from what he wants to do. “His nature is not remorseless, but to escape from a trap he has to act without pity. ” (Williams 46).
The father in The Glass Menagerie worked for a phone company who fell in love with distance. ”He gave up the job with the telephone company and skipped the light fantastic of this town. ” (Williams 47). Tennessee Williams’ father was a traveling salesman. Just like in The Glass Menagerie, Williams’ father was also not home as often as his family would’ve liked. While he was growing up, Tennessee Williams and his family moved into an apartment in St. Louis. The front door of their house was opening up to look at an alley. In the play, Tom describes to the audience where his family lives.
He says, “The apartment faces an alley and is entered by a fire-escape, a structure whose name is a bit of accidental truth, for all of these huge buildings are always burning with the slow and implacable fires of human desperation. “(Williams 46). Also, Tennessee Williams eventually spent some time at Washington University in St. Louis but ended up going to the University of Iowa instead. In The Glass Menagerie, Tom’s mother Amanda says to him, “a night-school course in accounting at Washington-U! Just think what a wonderful thing that would be for you son. ” (Williams 62).
We can see how Tennessee Williams didn’t want to remain in St. Louis University to attend school. Tennessee Williams and his sister were very close. him around like a ghost through his life and his art because she was not all there with him. However, he loved her very much, like Tom in The Glass Menagerie loves his sister Amanda. Tom says to his mother, “Laura seems all those things to you and me because she’s ours and we love her. We don t even notice she’s crippled anymore. ” (Williams 66). It is also true that the Character Laura in The Glass Menagerie is very much like Williams’ sister Rose.
She was diagnosed clinically insane in 1938 after he graduated from the University of Iowa. It’s obvious that Laura seems very strange sometimes. Tom say’s “Laura is very different from other girls. Through the eyes of strangers, she’s terribly shy, and lives in a world of her own and those things maker her seem a little peculiar to people outside the house. ” (Williams 66). Rose spent almost all of her life in sanitariums. Edwina tried to find Rose a mate by sending her to Business College, but failed her first assignment and never continued.
Amanda says to Laura, “No dear, you go in the front room and study your typewriter chart. Or practice your shorthand a little. Stay fresh and pretty! It’s almost time for our gentlemen callers to start arriving. (Williams 50). Amanda had also sent Laura to business school. In the play, Laura cracks under pressure and the scrutiny of her typewriting teacher and does not get a job to support her self. In Amanda and in Rose Williams’ life there was a gentleman caller in particular for Rose/Laura, who opened them up but never came back. “We are going to have one. What? A gentleman caller!
Do you realize that he’s the first young man we’ve introduced to your sister? It’s terrible, dreadful, disgraceful that poor little sister has never received a single gentleman caller! ” (Williams 64). Both in our play and also for the real Rose Williams, hopes were restrained on this young man whose characters referred to as Jim in The Glass Menagerie. Jim mistakes Laura’s absence of school for her sickness as Blue Roses and ends up referring to her as this through high school. This can also provide evidence that Laura is Rose Williams. In the start of The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams says this about Laura. A childhood illness has left her crippled exquisitely fragile. ” (Williams 46). Rose was more mentally inept instead of having bad leg like Laura. However, they are both defected fragile young women who were abandoned by their fathers, gentlemen callers, and brothers in the end. Williams and his mother didn’t get along much and says this of her, “A little woman of great but confused vitality clinging frantically to another time and place certainly she has endurance and a kind of heroism, and though her foolishness makes her unwittingly cruel at times, there is great tenderness in her slight person. (Williams 46). This identifies description of what Edwina Williams was like. She obviously had many bad experiences with Tennessee Williams’ father that made her sad and difficult for Williams. Furthermore even though they didn’t get along, Williams loved his mother very much. His mother raised Williams almost entirely herself. She was domineering of him and very sheltering. Proof can be found during the exchange at the dinner table Amanda says to Tom “So chew your food and give your salivary glands a chance to function! You re not excused from the table.
You smoke too much. ” (Williams 48). There are many instances where it is shown that, like in real life, the mother and son have a difficult time with each other. Tom is very impatient of his mother but later says, “now that we cannot hear the mothers speech, her silliness is gone and she has dignity and tragic beauty. ” (Williams 88). This evidence proves that, in the end, Williams loved his mother very much In the end of the play Tom says ”Oh Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be!
I reach for a cigarette, I cross the street, I run into the movies or a bar, I buy a drink, and I speak to the nearest stranger anything that can blow your candles out! For nowadays the world is lit by lightning! Blow out your candles, Laura and so good-bye. “(Williams 88). Tennessee Williams’ literary work was entirely in recognition and memoir to his sister, his family, and his life. Works Cited Rusinko, Susan. “Biography Of Tennessee Williams. ” Critical Insights: Tennessee Williams. 8-13. n. p. : Salem Press, 2010. Literary Reference Center. Web. 6 Nov. 2012. Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. New York: New Directions, 1999. Print.