The Glass Menagerie

From Academic Kids

The Glass Menagerie is a play by Tennessee Williams. The play premiered in Chicago on December 26, 1944, and in 1945 won the prestigious New York Drama Critics Circle Award. The Glass Menagerie was Williams' first highly successful play; he went on to become one of America's most highly-regarded playwrights.



The Glass Menagerie

The play is set in St. Louis in 1937, and deals with the troubled relationship between an aging mother, Amanda Wingfield, and her painfully shy daughter Laura, as told by the son and brother, Tom, who is supposedly recalling events from his memory.

Biographical themes in the play

One of the key interpretations of the play is its relation to Williams' life. All of the characters appear to be connected in some way to members of his family: the mother, Amanda Wingfield, shares characteristics with Williams' mother, an aggressive woman who had delusions of being a southern belle and living a genteel life. Laura Wingfield, her daughter, is similar to Williams' sister, Rose. Laura is shy and introverted to the point of being socially handicapped. As a result of her mother's harping, Laura's slight limp is exaggerated in her mind to the point where she believes herself crippled. Williams' sister was also mentally unstable, and spent most of her life in a mental institution. The play's protagonist, Tom Wingfield, is very similar to Williams himself. For most of his life, Williams felt guilty about leaving his mentally ill sister on her own, to nearly die from a botched lobotomy. In the play, Tom feels as if he is betraying his sister by leaving home, just like his father did.

Some critics have thought that Tom is a homosexual (just as Williams was). Tom is a writer working a menial job in a shoe factory. While he works at this factory, Tom actually writes poetry. Williams' real name was Thomas, so there is clearly a connection between Tom in the play and Williams himself. Jim O'Connor, Laura's love interest, may reflect the type of popular, charismatic character that Williams wishes he could have been. Women flock to O'Connor; Williams has not always been so loved. The end of the play is tragic: O'Connor leads Laura on with a kiss but lets her down shortly afterwards with the news that he is engaged to another woman. Tom, the family's sole provider, leaves home to be a sailor and fulfill his want for adventure. He fulfills it, much as Williams finally fulfilled his dream of being a successful writer.


The Glass Menagerie was parodied by Christopher Durang in a short one-act entitled For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls, in which gender roles are switched, and a very butch sister is overprotective of her wimpy, pathetic brother.


The Glass Menagerie was first produced by Eddie Dowling and Louis J. Singer at the Civic Theatre in Chicago, Ill., on December 26th, 1944. It was later performed at the Playhouse Theatre in New York City on March 31st, 1945. The cast was:

Amanda Wingfield Laurette Taylor

Laura Wingfield: Eddie Dowling

Tom Wingfield: Julie Haydon

Jim O'Connor: Anthony Ross

Film Adaptations

At least two movie versions of The Glass Menagerie have been produced, the first ( directed by Irving Rapper in 1950 and the second ( by Paul Newman in 1987.

External link:

et:Klaasist loomaaed


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools