The Glass Menagerie

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The theme of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie is conflict. The play contains both internal and external conflict. The absence of Tom's father forces external turmoil and conflict between Tom the protagonist, and his mother the antagonist. The internal conflict is seen within Tom through his constant references to leaving home and his selfishness. The play is about a young aspiring poet named Tom, who works at a shoe warehouse. Tom is unhappy with is life at home mainly because of his overbearing, over protective mother named Amanda. Tom also has a sister within the play named Laura who chooses to isolate herself from the rest of society. During the play Tom's relationship with his mother is filled with very harsh and abrasive…show more content…
Within the quote Tom proves he is a coward because he tries to find the easy way out of handling his problems by leaving. Tom believes his absence is a well deserved punishment for his mother and boss because he was forced to fill his father's shoes. The portrayal of Tom's character is similar to Jessie's because they both feel leaving is the only way to solve their problems. Much like Tom, Jessie chooses to solve hers within the play by leaving through death. Both Jessie and Tom feel handling their predicaments by leaving are justifiable and suitable. For instance, Jessie's cowardliness is displayed when Thelma says, "You can keep trying. You can get brave and try some more. You don't have to give up!"(Norman 1486). It is clearly seen within the quote Thelma equates Jessie to a quitter because she realizes Jessie is abandoning her many problems by giving up. Jessie's desperation and lack of confidence compliment her depiction as a coward. In the same way, Stein believes Tom is coward when he says, "Tom's desire to escape from home and the warehouse and Amanda's belief" (Stein 4). Stein's references to the things Tom abandons during the play emphasizes Tom's cowardly manner. Stein realizes Tom would rather act irrationally and not try to solve his problems as opposed to acting rationally and solving the problems. As has been noted, the portrayal of Tom as a coward helps to elaborate on the theme of conflict.

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