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The Glass Menagerie

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“THE GLASS MENAGERIE”

Steven E. Milburn Jr.

Milburn 1

“THE GLASS MENAGERIE”:

Ingredients of a Tragic Drama and a Modern Tragic Heroine

Tennessee Williams wrote and created the play, “The Glass Menagerie,” with the

concept of tragedy in mind. Random House’s denotative meaning of the word tragedy is

as follows: a dramatic composition, often in verse, dealing with a serious or somber

theme, typically that of a great person destined through a flaw of character or conflict

with some overpowering force, as fate or society, to down fall or destruction. The play

takes place within a small dingy apartment in St. Louis during the late 1930’s, a time of

enjoying a waltz, listening to phonograph records, and experiencing social or economical

misfortune. The action of the play revolves around three characters that are all

Wingfields: Amanda (the mother,) Tom (the son,) and Laura (the daughter). Each

character endures some type of adversity throughout the play, which can possibly be

attributed to the fact that Mr. Wingfield (husband / father) abandoned them years earlier.

“The Glass Menagerie” contains several attributes relevant to a tragedy play such as the

serious struggle between Amanda (protagonist) and Tom (antagonist). In order for us to

justifiably label “The Glass Menagerie” as a tragic drama we must thoroughly examine

the play and prove that it contains the proper ingredients to make a tragic drama;

furthermore, we need to focus on how the character of Amanda fits the characteristics of

a modern tragic heroine.

“The Glass Menagerie” can be classified as a tragic drama by analyzing and revealing

the tragic events that happened in Amanda’s life. Tragedy is foreshadowed from the

beginning:

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