The Glass Menagerie Efforts, Failure and Grace Scenes VI-VII
Outline Review of the Issues Covered Starting Questions Efforts Doomed Amanda’s Efforts and Responses to Failure Laura’s Fears and Responses Tom and Jim: Jim’s Efforts and Failures Tom’s “Escape” Conclusion
Review Scenes 1-II: Memory, Dream and Family Relations The Setting vs. Dreams (fire escape vs. porch), The narrator as a magician Amanda’s past vs. Laura’s. The first “fiasco” Scenes III-V: Escape, Pressure, and Efforts Tom’s escape from and conflicts with Amanda Laura’s efforts in keeping peace. Amanda’s efforts
Scenes VI and VII: Questions Amanda's efforts: Describe what she has done--to the house, to herself and to Laura. Does she do all for Laura? (1463-65) How does she behave in front of Jim? (1469-70) When the electricity is cut? (1471-72) When knowing about Jim's engagement with Betty? () Why is she afraid of Jim at one moment? (1470) Laura: Why is she so afraid of Jim at first? What does the unicorn glass figurine signify? How does Laura look at "him"? And the breaking of its horn? Why does Laura give it to Jim at the end?
Scenes VI and VII: Questions (2) Jim: Why is he called a "high school hero"? Is he still a hero? Is he successful in helping Laura overcome her "inferiority complex"? Or in overcoming his own? What drives Jim to kiss Laura? Is Jim right to say that democracy is built on Money, Power and Knowledge? Tom: How is Jim a contrast to Tom? What does Tom reveal to him? And him to Tom? Are they good friends? Is he irresponsible?
Ending 1. Laura's and Amanda's responses: How does Amanda, like Laura, maintain her dignity when realizing the truth about Jim? 2. What do you think about Amanda's scolding of Tom? Is Amanda the one to drive away Tom? 3. Ending: Does Tom escape successfully? What do you think about Tom's concluding speech? What does "blowing out" the candles mean?
Efforts Doomed to Fail • Laura – cannot fit in this society • Tom – does not have any friend in the warehouse • Amanda – limited understanding • Jim – not really a hero
Sound Development—Merry Music to Doom Music – “Ou sont les neiges” 'ALL THE WORLD IS WAITING FOR THE SUNRISE !' Music to accompany the Annunciation When Tom says that Laura is “peculiar” [THE DANCE-HALL MUSIC CHANGES TO A TANGO THAT HAS A MINOR AND SOMEWHAT OMINOUS TONE.] When Laura knows Jim is the caller –[MUSIC OMINOUS.] (1463) End of Scene 6 (Laura sick) A clap of thunder (1470) Laura’s walking – clumping like thunder for her When Amanda hears about Betty – “There is an ominous cracking sound in the sky” “The sky falls.” (1482) Ending: nowadays the world is lit by lightning! Blow out your candles, Laura.
Amanda: Her Efforts (1463-65) New pieces of furniture Gay deceiver for Laura (Laura as a “a pretty trap”) (1464) Relives her past: She wears a girlish frock of yellowed voile with a blue silk sash. She carries a bunch of jonquils - the legend of her youth is nearly revived.
Amanda’s Responses In front of Jim – gay and humorous, she repeats the past. When the power is cut (1471-72)—Still good-mannered, her problems revealed. Her joke – Moses “in the dark” Her words on electricity: a mysterious thing Lives in the 19th century Gives Jim an old candelabrum used in a church burned-down by lightening. She is “frightened” (1470) over “thunder” and Laura’s repeated “sickness.” Maintains her grace when hearing about Betty (1483) –giving good wishes, and “bravely” grimacing
Laura: Her Fears Amanda’s excessive preparation Her secret love of Jim O’Connor – her past failure (1465) the moment: the climax of her secret life (1472) Afraid of social contact, and lives with “collectible” – figurines; treating them as living things (more later) Victrola – 1) when Amanda finds out about her absences from the business school—L “crosses to the victrola ”(1446) 2) When asked to open to door forJim, “Darts to the victrola and winds it franticallly and turns it on (1466) 3) After knowing about Betty and giving Jim her unicorn, “She rises unsteadily and crouches beside the victrola to wind it up.” (1481)
Laura’s Responses --Sharing Opens up to Jim – (1473- ) Talks about his and her past (1474) In between Jim’s two speeches (on everybody’s having problems and L’s inferiority complex), her shyness is dissolved by Jim’s warmness – who [smiles] at LAURA with “a warmth and charm which lights her inwardly with altar candles.” (1476) Uses The annual to establish connections with Jim. the glass figurines – to disguise her “tumult” (1476), and then as her interest to share with Jim. Her wonder at Jim’s self-importance and expectation of success(1478).
Laura’s Responses: Grace Accepts the first accident gracefully (1479) Nervous but not carried away (1480)-- abashed beyond speech; nearly faint with the novelty of her emotions; Ask questions – “blue” roses; “pretty”? After the kiss – “bright, dazed look”; “she looks at it [the unicorn] with a tender, bewildered expression.” (--as if looking at herself) After the revelation—1. “She bites her lip which was trembling and then bravely smiles.” (1481) 2. Gives the unicorn (without a horn) to him as a “souvenir” –a symbol of good will, of her self “normalized,” and, maybe, of self-distanciation.
Tom and Jim • Is Jim’s visit helpful? Is Jim considerate or self-centered? • Is Tom selfish? Does he have to leave?
Jim – Not Successful, But More Sociable than Tom Past: High school hero: always under the spotlight (1462) Present: -- more sociable than Tom; -- a man of action, interested in public speaking, radio engineering and sports. -- Believes in social poise; gains confidence with public speaking skills. (1467) -- practical, asks Tom to wake up.(1468) -- Charming, sociable, and worldly: Thrown off the beam, and won over by Amanda’s charms (69) Accepts candlelight (72) classical music vs. hot swing music (67) Believes in making fortune, science and progress ("The Century of Progress“ exhibition held in Chicago, 1933-43 p. 1473) Believes in television (mass media), Money, knowledge and power
Jim –His Efforts and Failures Believes he has social poise chewing gum (1473, 1477) and cigarette, mint, life saver (1480) as self-protection Their conversation, started by Laura’s raising the question about his singing in the past (73) Speaks to Laura but actually about or to himself about “everybody’s” problems and disappointment ( his not being discouraged) 1475-76 About her inferiority complex the others’ ordinariness (see next page) [after breaking the unicorn] He tries to encourage Laura by praising her and kissing her only to reveal his engagement. (1481) lacking in inner substance or understanding of Laura’s Asks about the music (From the Paradise Dance Hall) dance a wrong move
Jim’s Self-Centeredness: attention shifted to himself in his speeches 2nd speech (1477) I understand it [inferiority complex] because I had it, too. Which of them has one-tenth of your good points! Or mine ! Or anyone else's, as far as that goes - Gosh ! Everybody excels in some one thing. Some in many ! [Unconsciously glances at himself in the mirror.] All you've got to do is discover in what! Take me, for instance. [He adjusts his tie at the mirror.] Pumping himself up: “think of yourself as superior” (77) Well, well, well, well Look how big my shadow is when I stretch ! (1478) [before the dance]
Jim – Kind but Impulsive, Honest but still self-centered 3rd “speech” and the kiss (1480-1481) –Why? To make up for his error, or to shows his genuine concern? [His voice become soft and hesitant with a genuine feeling] I wish that you were my sister. I'd teach you to have some confidence in yourself. [gets carried away] Somebody needs to build your confidence up and make you proud instead of shy and turning away and - blushing - Somebody -ought to - Ought to - kiss you, Laura! Cigarette Stumble-john! [gets carried away] Well - right away from the start it was - love ! (LEGEND: 'LOVE!‘) LAURA sways slightly forward and grips the arm of the sofa. He fails to notice, now enrapt in his own comfortable being.]
Tom’s Escape –Planned, Bound to Happen but Directionless at First Amanda’s accusation as the catalyst: You don't know things anywhere ! You live in a dream; you manufacture illusions! (1483) “something boiling inside”; Like Jim and his father, he is one on the move. (1468-69) Tom’s final escape– (1484) Frustration and attraction: Images of the rail; dance-hall music; Futile actions: caught writing a poem on a shoe-box; being a sailor? Directionless, unsettled; “in [his] father's footsteps, attempting to find in motion what was lost in space” – traveling as escape, cities sweeping about him “like dead leaves” (no genuine contact or achievement) Haunted by the image of Laura Wishes for Laura to blow out the candle, so that Tom can move onward without the guilty past. (and maybe Laura can move on, too?)
Conclusion Memory and Family as Constraints?
Memory Haunting Tom? Haunted: The whole play is a memory play; with legends showing the changes of Tom’s moods and tones as he remembers the past: Even when he [gentleman caller] wasn't mentioned, his presence hung in Mother's preoccupied look and in my sister's frightened, apologetic manner - hung like a sentence passed upon the Wingfields Writing as distanciation – the ironies and sympathy expressed; the final blowing out of the candles. Broader understanding: Setting the context – Depression and an industrial city The use of symbols (Tom has become a poet)
Screen Device – Changes of Tone (1463-64) Emphasis of the atmosphere (tension) -- 'THE ACCENT OF A COMING FOOT' “Terror!’ ‘The Opening of a Door’ Ironic Emphasis -- A PRETTY TRAP (1464); (LEGEND: 'LOVE!‘ at Jim’s speech 1481) sympathy –e.g. Laura in a pool of light (1449)Laura turns away from THIS IS MY SISTER: CELEBRATE HER WITH STRINGS!' MUSIC. (1464); Souvenir (1471, 1480) Self-Irony: sailing vessel with Jolly Roger (1455); When power is cut, and Amanda asks about the notices--[LEGEND: 'HA!'] (1471)
Symbols The father’s portrait Glass menagerie What else? Of the world fire escape and dark alleys Glossy magazine Movies, rainbow scarf, coffin trick the Paradise Dance Hall and the a large glass sphere which filter the dusk with rainbow colors. Radio engineering and TV Thunder and lightening
Characters all Constrained By a Self-Image which they could not attain Amanda – as a girl (Southern belle) Laura – unicorn or blue roses Jim – Executive at Desk (1467) Tom – a poet But Laura and Amanda show genuine concern for each other (e.g. scene 4: Amanda “So quiet but - still water runs deep!” scene 7: ending ) Tom makes it, and he expresses infinite sympathy to those struggling without success (presenting the mother and sister as dignified 1484)
Extensions A psychoanalytic reading: (ref. http://courses.nus.edu.sg/course/elltankw/theatre/week3.htm) What Tennessee Williams tries to do. Williams’ sister: suffers from schizophrenia and later, paranoia. The parents allowed a prefrontal lobotomy (前頭葉切離術) operated on her, which left her incapacitated all her life. A New Critical Study of its use of symbols, tensions, and irony Stylistic study of the use of simile, hyperbole, etc. (ref. A Tentative Study of Linguistic Deviation in The Glass Menagerie )