A discussion into the ways in which Williams explores memory in 'The Glass Menagerie'

Essay by lou_c_m January 2003

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Tennessee Williams has shown memory as a distortion of what really happened. The 'Glass Menagerie' is all Tom's memory. If seen from another characters view point or memory, the situations shown may have appeared very different. Williams has explored memory by showing how you can exaggerate certain things in your memory, and also how imagery, symbols and music can play a large part in creating the illusion of memory.

Williams has used visual effectiveness of the staging of a piece of drama to his advantage. Throughout the play images appear that illustrate a memory that is being performed or discussed by the characters. In scene one when Amanda talks about her days in Blue Mountain, an image of "Amanda as a girl on a porch, greeting callers" is displayed. This may be either Amanda's memory of herself or the image in Tom's memory of Amanda's younger days in Blue Mountain.

Williams shows many images throughout the play. An image of 'blue roses' appears as laura recalls how Jim called her "Blue roses". This shows how Williams feels images make up a large part of memory. Showing the images on stage creates an unrealistic setting adding to the illusions that the play is memory.

Williams has used music, as he has done with images, to illustrate the memory. It gives an unrealistic atmosphere and adds to the effect of the illusion of memory. Music is used at times when Amanda and Laura become at the most brittle and fragile. The glass menagerie music is used as Tom, in a furry, accidentally knocks over Laura's menagerie. This may be a symbol of Tom 'knocking' confidence out of Laura and/or 'knocking' hope out of his mother. The tense atmosphere of this situation is illustrated with music. Music has been used here to show...