The Glass Menagerie  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Glass Menagerie is a play by Tennessee Williams. The play premiered in Chicago in 1944, and in 1945 won the prestigious New York Drama Critics Circle Award. The Glass Menagerie was Williams's first successful play; he went on to become one of America's most highly regarded playwrights. The Glass Menagerie is accounted by many to be a biographical play about Williams life, the characters and story mimicking his own more closely than any of his other works. Williams would be Tom, his Mother, Amanda, and his sickly and disturbed sister Rose would be Laura.

Plot summary

Template:Quote box The play is introduced to the audience by Tom as a memory play, based on his recollection of his mother Amanda and his sister Laura.

Amanda's husband abandoned the family long ago. Although a survivor and a pragmatist, Amanda yearns for the illusions and comforts she remembers from her days as a fêted Southern belle. She yearns especially for these things for her daughter Laura, a young adult with a crippled foot and tremulous insecurity about the outside world. Tom works in a warehouse, doing his best to support them. He chafes under the banality and boredom of everyday life and spends much of his spare time watching movies in cheap cinemas at all hours of the night. Amanda is obsessed with finding a suitor for Laura, who spends most of her time with her collection of little glass animals. Eventually Tom brings home an acquaintance from work named Jim, who Amanda hopes will be the long-awaited suitor for Laura. Laura realizes that Jim is the man she loved in high school and has thought of ever since. After a long evening in which Jim and Laura are left alone by candlelight in the living room, waiting for electricity to be restored, Jim reveals that he is already engaged to be married, and he leaves. During their long scene together, Jim and Laura have shared a quiet dance, and he accidentally brushes against the glass menagerie, knocking the glass unicorn to the floor and breaking its horn off ("Now it's just like the other horses," Laura says). When Amanda learns that Jim was engaged she assumes Tom knew and lashes out at him: ("That's right, now that you've had us make such fools of ourselves. The effort, the preparations, all the expense! The new floor lamp, the rug, the clothes for Laura! All for what? To entertain some other girl's fiancé! Go to the movies, go! Don't think about us, a mother deserted, an unmarried sister who's crippled and has no job! Don't let anything interfere with your selfish pleasure. Just go, go, go — to the movies !") At play's end, as Tom speaks, it becomes clear that Tom left home soon afterward and never returned. In Tom's final speech, as he watches his mother comforting Laura long ago, he bids farewell: "Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be! I reach for a cigarette, I cross the street, I run into the movies or a bar, I buy a drink, I speak to the nearest stranger — anything that can blow your candles out! [LAURA bends over the candles.]- for nowadays the world is lit by lightning ! Blow out your candles, Laura — and so good-bye." Laura blows the candles out as the play ends.

Film and television adaptations

At least two movie versions of The Glass Menagerie have been produced, the first directed by Irving Rapper in 1950 , starring Gertrude Lawrence, Jane Wyman, Kirk Douglas, and Arthur Kennedy, and the second by Paul Newman in 1987, starring Joanne Woodward, John Malkovich, Karen Allen, and James Naughton. Williams characterized the former, which had an implied happy ending grafted onto it, as the worst adaptation of his work. Template:Fact It is not currently available on VHS or DVD.

There is also a TV adaptation by Anthony Harvey, broadcast on ABC on December 16, 1973, starring Katharine Hepburn, Sam Waterston, Michael Moriarty, and Joanna Miles. All four actors were nominated for Emmys, with Moriarty and Miles winning. An earlier television version, recorded on videotape, and starring Shirley Booth, was broadcast on December 8, 1966 as part of CBS Playhouse. Hal Holbrook played Tom and Pat Hingle played the Gentleman Caller. Booth was nominated for an Emmy for her performance as Amanda.

There is an Indian version of the movie, filmed in Malayalam language. The movie titled Akale (meaning Beyond), released in 2004, is directed by Shyamaprasad. Prithiviraj, Geethu Mohandas, Sheela and Tom George play the main characters.Music was scored by M Jayachandran.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Glass Menagerie" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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