The Glass Menagerie Critique Assignment

The Glass Menagerie Critique Assignment Words: 3975

Erick Stripling English 102 Professor Koritsoglou 3 May 2011 Comparison and Contrast of Fences & The Glass Menagerie The Glass Menagerie and Fences have been deemed one of the most influential texts that have come to be favored by many. The plays demonstrate the struggles of family life and the outcome of these circumstances. Each character within the two productions find their place within in their worlds. However, the plays differ from one another when reality comes into question. In the end of each play conclude on an optimistic manner that permits each party to grow from their experiences together.

Fences is a literary work written by the astound August Wilson. The play begins on a light note but develops into a complex piece that eventually concludes on an optimistic note. Fences is about a family that struggles to stay together. Troy is the main character of the play, through him we come to meet the rest of the cast. His role in the story is vital. His stubborn and emotionless personality leads the characters within the text to become stronger individual who reunite because of his passing. The Glass Menagerie is a production that relates to the issue of abandonment within the Wingfield’s family.

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Since the father of the household has deserted his family his son, Tom, is forced to fill his shoes as the man of the house. Tom’s mother, Amanda, is the primary reason behind Tom’s obligations. He must work to take care of sister, Laura, as well. Since she is casted as a disabled individual all of the pressure is on Tom to financially assist his family. In order to get away from the reality he deems desirable, he escapes into a world of alcohol and movies. Both The Glass Menagerie and Fences offer similar ideas that relate to the theme of dreams.

In Fences dreams are portrayed in a negative manner, it is often referred to as a nonfactual element within the play. Troy is the main character that endorses the destruction of dreams. In the play Troy’s sons, Cory and Lyon, profess their dreams to their father instead of encouraging his sons to pursue their dreams he shoots them down. Within the text Cory is portrayed as a football star, due to his talent he was offered a college scholarship. Rather than support his son’s dream, Troy tells his son to forget about the scholarship and remain focus on his job. Lyon also comes to is father on a later date and explains his desire is to make a living off of his Jazz music. Unfortunately Troy does not offer any words of encouragement, he simply tells Lyon to get a real job. Troy explains to his son that he sees Jazz as nothing more than “Chinese music,” in order words he considers his son’s music to be unpleasant noise (1149). Troy is the main obstacle that keeps his children from pursuing their dreams. In The Glass Menagerie dreams are seen in a positive light because it offers each of the characters a mean of escape. However, reality and personal issues keep each of the characters from chasing their dreams.

For instance, Tom wants to seek a career in the entertainment business but cannot do so because he is held back by his responsibilities to his family. His sister Laura is hindered by her disability making it difficult for her to pursue her dreams in life. The characters from both plays, The Glass Menagerie and Fences, experience obstacles that keep them from accomplishing their dreams. The family dynamic shown through the Glass Menagerie and Fences are two dissimilar subjects that are addressed in different styles. In the Glass Menagerie Laura, Tom’s younger sister, is completely dependent on Tom and her mother.

She is seen as the baby of the family, they do not expect her to do much. Due to her disability she frequently turns to Tom for financial and psychological support. Subsequently Laura’s debility leaves her shy and reserved as a result her mother often speaks for her. The complete opposite can be said for Fences where Troy is the leader of his household. Troy’s family is composed of hardworking individuals who find a means of support on their own. Although Lyon may come around every now and then for money, he still has an outside source of livelihood and funding.

His family is portrayed as independent individuals because Troy was not able to express any emotional acceptance with them. The symbols established in each production vary and hold diverse meanings to the characters of the play. Each symbol allows the audience to grasps a deeper connection with the characters. Some of the symbols may reflect an individual’s personality or the way they see life. In the Glass Menagerie, there are three unique symbols that show the character’s sense of self and it also reflects one of the themes within the work.

Laura’s glass menagerie serves as the foundation within the play; the figurines within her collection are a reflection of herself. Since the figures are made of glass they are seen as fragile objects that require delicate care. It can be referred to manner in which Laura’s family deals with her, in a subtle state. The glass menageries within Laura’s belongings are clear but when light is shined through it in the right way, it reflects an assortment of colors. The way the light is shunned on the object can come into comparison with the way Laura is seen.

She may appear peculiar and odd but when light is casted on her correctly, you see the beauty in her. Another symbol that comes into relation with Laura is her prized glass menagerie of a unicorn. Jim, Tom’s work associate, comments on Laura’s possession, “Unicorns, aren’t they extinct in the modern world? Poor little fellow, he must feel sort of lonesome” (1219). The features that Jim describes can be related to how Laura feels in life, lonesome. The facts that unicorns are mythical creatures demonstrate that Laura is not living in reality. Regrettably Laura’s treasured figurine foreshadows her fate.

As Jim and she were dancing the figurine was knocked down and its horn was broken off. At that moment, her world starts to come undone when she finds that Jim is married. The horn breaking off symbolizes her broken heart; she no longer lingers in her fantasy world. Laura is now pushed in reality, through her experience she now becomes normal. The final symbol displayed within the Glass Menagerie is the fire escape that lies outside of the Wingfield’s apartment. The fire escape poses as symbol for emission from disorder and mayhem, Tom sees the occurrences within his home as the disorder.

He often sits by fire escape smoking, planning his departure. In Fences, the symbols expressed through the text are of a different nature. Fences is the actual title of the production it also holds a significant symbol within the play. It represents different interpretations to each of the characters. To Rose, Troy’s wife, the fence is seen as a positive and constructive addition to their residence. It reflects her love and devotion to her family and the fact that she wants to keep them close to her.

Ironically the fence is shown in a different light when interpreted from Troy’s point of view. To Troy the fence is a symbol of his disintegrating marriage with Rose. The fence is starting to become a barrier extinguishes their relationship ultimately leading to his infidelity. To Troy’s sons the fence is simply another project they have to complete; they see no importance in it other than the fact that their mother wants it completed. An additional symbol in Fences is the devil. The devil is a symbol that Troy comes to battle in life.

He tells story about his interaction with the devil and how he is trying to snatch his life from underneath him. Troy sees the devil as no threat because he was able to overcome his grips in the past when he cheated death. He refers to death as a “fast ball from a high right corner,” in order words it is something that can be easily avoided. The final symbol that is a reoccurring element within the play is Troy’s reference to baseball. He relates life’s struggles and achievements to the game. For instance, each time Cory defies his father’s wishes Troy references each time as a strike, “strike one”.

The strikes continue until it reaches three and then you are out of the game, on Cory’s third strike Troy kicks him out of his house and forces him to find a means of survival. The play Fences generates a level of sympathy from the audience due to each character’s misfortunate. Troy is the main character that some might deem the devil himself. However, if one was to look at his circumstances in life you could come to understand the reasoning behind his demeanor. Troy was kicked out of his house at the age of 14 and forced to find a way to support himself.

He had no one he could turn to for help or assistance, life was not handed to him a silver spoon. From then on Troy continued to face obstacles throughout his life. Due to the racial tension he was not able to fulfill his dreams of being a famous baseball player. All of the heart aches and disappointment he encountered forced him to become the way he is, emotionless. Troy’s wife, Rose, is shown as a nurturing woman who cares deeply for her family especially her husband. When she comes to find out that he is fathering another child, it tears her up.

To make things worse, Rose is left raising the illegitimate child her husband and his mistress left behind. Regardless of her husband’s short comings, she embraces the child as if the baby was her own. The level sympathy continues on to Troy’s children. The fact that Troy was absent in Lyon’s life due to the fact he was in prison, makes the audience feel empathy for Lyon. If he had had a fatherly figure in his life, he might have ended up becoming a mature hardworking man. Cory on the other hand did have his father around but the fact that his father does not support his dream hinders him.

Rather than continue on to college to better himself, he followed his father’s command. Troy’s youngest child Raynel is the character that evokes the most sympathy from the audience. She lost both of her parents at a young age. Raynel will never come to meet her birth mother or experience the presence of her father. The last character that induces sympathy is Gabriel, Troy’s brother. He lost half of his brain in war, he was granted money by the government by Troy ended up using all of it on his house. Not only did Troy take his money, he ended up signing him over to a mental institution.

No one is quite clear if he had escaped the mental ward or if he was let free. Regardless of his situation, Gabriel remains light hearted and forgiving. Fences is a literary work that begins on a light note but develops into a multifaceted piece that eventually ends on an optimistic note; regardless of the main character’s death, Troy. The text displays how Troy has caused much of his family’s pain and destruction. Nevertheless, the pain leads to the positive growth of his family. The reoccurring theme that supports the hopeful conclusion is the occurrence of change.

We see that Troy’s sons and wife will transform into stronger individuals, leading to a positive close. Troy’s brother, Gabriel, is the essential character that reflects the optimistic ending in the concluding scenes of the production. Gabriel is Troy’s younger brother who lost half his brain fighting in a war. Gabriel is the reason why Troy was able to purchase his house because Gabriel was receiving money from the government for his injuries. While Troy was taking his money he was locked up in an insane asylum. Gabriel re-enters the play, the audience is unsure if he has escaped or if he was let free.

Either way Gabriel enters the scene as a positive force. At Troy’s funeral the mood is of depressing state, Gabriel brings light to the event. Initially he tries to blow his horn but no sound is released, then he begins to dance similar to an African style, “a dance of atavistic signature and ritual. ” (1176). The gates of heaven open at the end of his dance, Gabriel states “That’s the way that go! ” (1176). After everything negative that has occurred in his life, he maintains a positive outlook into the future. He plays a significant role in the ending, he signals the conclusion of an optimistic forthcoming.

Since Troy grew up at time of turmoil, Troy sees that African Americans will never obtain equality. He thinks that things will continue as they have and that change is obsolete. When he was younger he used to be an outstanding baseball player, Bono references to his olden days as an incredible ball player, “Ain’t but two men ever played baseball as good as you. That’s Babe Ruth and Josh Gibson. Them’s the only two men ever hit more home runs than you” (1128). Unfortunately African Americans were not allowed to play in the major leagues until Troy was too old to participate.

As a result, Troy wants to harbor his son, Cory, from the disappoint he experienced. Although he does not directly tell his son his logic behind his command, it comes off harsh and negative. Troy simply does not want his son to chase a dream and end up regretting his life. He believes that his son, Cory, has a better chance at life if he continues to work rather than playing football. In turn Cory follows his demands but is abruptly kicked out of his house when his father discovers that he has given up his job until the football season ends.

Troy and Cory end up fighting over his decision to leave his position at A&P. To Troy his son’s decision has completely angered him, forcing him to kick Cory out his house. Since Troy was not nurtured as a young man, he is unable to express love towards his children. He is only doing what he knows best, acting in a harsh manner. When Cory leaves his home, he has nowhere else to turn so he joins the Marines. The fact that Troy has pushed his son into the world forces Cory to become a man; something that he would have never learned if he had went on to play football for a college.

Cory might have obtained fame and riches for a short time but he could have eventually become injured just as his uncle Gabriel had. As a result, Cory returns from the Marines as a mature solid man with a sense of hard work instill in him. Troy’s wife, Rose, reflects a lighter side of the play. She is the complete opposite of Troy; Rose is the fostering element of the production. Her name truly reflects her demeanor soft and delicate. Rose knew Troy when he was in his prime as a ball player and remained with him after realizing that all he will amount to is a trash man.

Through Troy’s faults and down falls she has stayed faithful to him. Eventually her ability to forgive Troy falls short when he admits that he has cheated. The manner in which he tells her is not of a sensitive state, he told her flat out that he was going to be a daddy. He did not bother to apologize or tell her that he loved her before or after he said it. She had to put the pieces together and figure out that he had cheated and is fathering a child by another woman. In her right mind she loses all respect for Troy. Rose no longer feels obligated to stay with her husband because of their marriage.

She sees her family as driving force behind her reasoning to stay with Troy. Rose’s demeanor has now completely changed; she is no longer allowing Troy to slide by. In a sense, she becomes a stronger woman as a result. When Troy returns to her with his ill-legitimate child, Raynell, Rose still opens her heart and takes them both in. Although she does not see Troy in the same light, she never once reflects her disappointment toward his daughter, stating that sins of the father should not be inflicted upon a child. Rose raises Raynell as her own daughter.

It ends on an optimistic note where Rose regains her independence and a daughter. Troy’s brother, Gabriel, is the essential character that reflects the optimistic ending in the concluding scenes of the production. Gabriel is Troy’s younger brother who lost half his brain fighting in a war. Gabriel is the reason why Troy was able to purchase his house because Gabriel was receiving money from the government for his injuries. While Troy was taking his money he was locked up in an insane asylum. Gabriel re-enters the play, the audience is unsure if he has escaped or if he was let free.

Either way Gabriel enters the scene as a positive force. At Troy’s funeral the mood is of depressing state, Gabriel brings light to the event. Initially he tries to blow his horn but no sound is released, then he begins to dance similar to an African style, “a dance of atavistic signature and ritual. ” (1176). The gates of heaven open at the end of his dance, Gabriel states “That’s the way that go! ” (1176). After everything negative that has occurred in his life, he maintains a positive outlook into the future. He plays a significant role in the ending, he signals the conclusion of an optimistic forthcoming.

In the end of the play each character has evolved from Troy’s negativity. The obstacles that the characters have endured allow room for each of them to growth. The events that had fallen upon each of the individuals permitted them to better themselves in the long run. Cory was able to make something of himself; he transformed into a better man than Troy. Rose in turn became an independent strong woman out her turmoil. Gabriel simply continued his life on a positive note regardless of the terrible things that have befallen him. The characters of the story started in a negative style but ended in an optimistic style.

The Glass Menagerie is a production that unfolds during a time of affliction and devastation. The time frame that the play has taken is after the Guernica catastrophe; many were left in complete annihilation. Already the audience is confronted with a difficult issue that leads to the need of escape. The need to escape is a reoccurring theme that pops up within the play. The Wingsfield family is often challenged with the idea of escape; Tom is the only character that was able to obtain his freedom. The reality that Tom is forced to endure has ultimately lead to his escape from his dysfunctional family.

Tom eventually obtains the chance to escape when he gets fired from his job. He was let go by his employer due to the fact that he was caught writing poetry on the clock. It appears that his love for literature resulted in his demise. He loses his job over the talent he holds; stripped of his lively hood. As Tom and his family are having dinner with his co-worker Jim, the lights are cut off. In order to avoid conflict Tom refuses to tell his mother that he did not pay the light bill because he had used the money to join the merchant marines.

Rather than break his mother’s heart and potentially face confrontation, he simply leaves it all behind for a life of adventure as a merchant marine. When Tom’s father had abandoned his family, he simply vanished without a word. All he left for his family was a post card he sent them from Mexico. Other than that, Tom’s father is an absent figure within the play. As a result, Tom’s mother, Amanda, forces Tom to take the role of his father. He had no choice but to abide by her demands. Tom picked up a job at a shoe warehouse to make ends meet, in order to support his mother and sister.

Tom had no intentions of living his life as a provider for his family. He wanted to obtain a career in the entertainment business where he could write freely and pursue his dreams. Unfortunately his dreams came to an abrupt end when he was called to take his father’s role. To escape the harsh reality of his life, he turned to movies and alcohol. The movies pertained to his dream of working in the entertainment business. Tom was able to live out short adventures through the movies he watched. While alcohol allowed him to escape the emotionally suppressed life he led.

These factors permitted Tom to escape mentally but reality would catch up with him when these elements wore off or ended. Tom’s departure might have been perceived in the same way that his father had left. It could be portrayed in a negative light, but in this case Tom’s escape was of a necessary nature. Tom was forced to take up a role that he was not ready for. He worked a job that he never planned on taking up; his whole life was put on hold because he took up his father’s responsibility. When he chose to escape his life, it gave way for Laura to find herself.

Once Tom is out of the picture, Laura might have to take up his role as the provider. It will permit her to come out of her fantasy into reality. Tom’s mother might also change out of his departure, she come to self-realization and understand that her demanding way are undesirable. In the end, Tom’s logic behind his escape can be deemed that of a justified nature. He was being forced to take on responsibilities that he never wanted. His mother and sister became the sole reason behind his life. Tom was unable to live out his dreams because of his father’s departure.

Everything that takes place within the play puts an extreme amount of pressure on Tom ultimately leading his withdrawal. The plays the Glass Menagerie and Fences have proven to be classic pieces of literature that portray gritty issues that relate to the household. The hardships that each party endured in relation to their dreams are of a similar nature. Both group of characters, from the Glass Menagerie and Fences, were hindered in their pursuit of happiness; neither party was able to live out the dreams they desired.

However, the interpretation in which the symbols were depicted are seen in a different light. The reality of escape is a component that served unique only to the Glass Menagerie while the personal growth from lack of fatherly love posed in Fences. The productions presented a variety of similarities and difference, all of which came together to portray the dilemmas of family life. Work Cited Kirszner, Laurie G. , and Stephen R. Mandell. Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.

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