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In Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie and William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, we see how Family history greatly affects both the characters of Hamlet and Tom Wingfield.

Tennessee Williams wrote the glass menagerie in 141. The Glass Menagerie can be categorized as a “Memory Play” which means that most of the play is narrated from the narrators memory.

The play is set in St Louis in 17. During this time while Williams was writing the play the economy was going through a recession. This affects the play in that while everyone else’s life and surroundings were changing the home of the Wingfield remains the same. Amanda Wingfield who is the mother of the household is not happy with her daughter Laura. Laura has a physical defect and wears a brace on her leg. Her mother is not happy with her due to the fact that she is really shy and does not attract men or as Amanda refers to them as “Gentlemen Callers”. In an attempt to fulfill the preconceived path that most parents have for their children Amanda enrolls Laura in a business college. Amanda finds out that Laura has not been going to her class she spends her days wondering around the city. Amanda feels that her only hope of having Laura fulfill the path that she has dreamed for her is by getting married. Amanda and her son Tom discuss how they can help Laura’s future.

Tom has selected Jim O’Connor a casual friend that he works with down at the factory to come over and have dinner with laura in hopes that the plans for her mother and the future that laura deserves will all be supplied by Jim. Laura gets word of the plans and connects the name Jim o’connor to the guy that she had a huge crush on in high school. When Jim arrives Laura answers the door and the retreats back to her room. While alone Tom tells Jim that he has used the money that was intended for the family electric bill to pay for membership in the merchant marines and that he plans to leave his family to pursue his own dreams. The family and guest sit down for dinner and midway through the meal the lights go out, they all light candles and Amanda encourages Jim to entertain Laura in the living room. While they talk they both reminisce of their high school times. They both recall the nickname that Jim gave her in High school of “Blue Roses which is actually a accidental pronunciation of her actual condition.


Throughout the talk Jim eventually lectures Laura about having low self esteem and letting a physical defect affect her life. Laura after warmed up to Jim shows him her “glass menagerie of animals. While dancing with Laura Jim accidently knocks over one of these glass animals breaking a piece of it off. Laura surprisingly forgives him and being caught within the moment Jim kisses laura. After realizing what he has done Jim tells Laura that he is actually engaged, laura in a nonresistant state offers Jim the broken glass figure as a memory of the night that they both have experienced. Jim leaves the house explaining to Amanda that he has to meet his fianc�. Amanda after finding out that Jim is engaged turns on Tom for not finding out this information before, and acuses him of being selfish. The play ends by Tom telling us that he was fired from his Job and left Amanda and laura behind. Tom tells us that something that he can’t leave behind is the guilty memory he has of his sister Laura.

My initial reaction to this play was a feeling of depression. The whole life and visual image of the play is a gloomy and sympathetic in my mind. Amanda’s constant nagging of her daughter Laura only makes her resign to her glass menagerie even more. Tom plays a double role in this play both as a character and a narrator. Tom is the only character in the play to actually break the fourth wall. The fourth wall is an imaginary wall between the actors and audience. Most of the time in plays the fourth wall is not meant to be broken, however in The Glass Menagerie this does not apply. Tom addresses the audience to give a different approach to explaining the play. He is detached from the stage action at some points and then is very much involved ion whats going on at another time.

Amanda can be seen as the tpical souther belle, but in this case she is a southern belle affected by a turn in her intended path. A result of this is that she still acts in her proper mannerisms and for that the time period are out of date and appear comical. Amanda is overlooked in my opinion a lot of critics view her as being a nag and I don’t see that as being necessarily true. In my opinion Amanda sacrifices a lot for the well being of her children. Someone of her stature would never be caught selling magazine subscriptions but she results to this state in order to heighten the possibility of Laura’s marriage proposals. We can say that Amanda should not be conceived as evil but as one having flaws. Amanda who just like her children occasionally goes into a fantasy world, but her children can admit that and Amanda cannot. Within the play most of the text we hear Amanda saying shows her character flaws but can be viewed as some of the best moments of the play in my opinion.

Hamlet Written by William Shakespeare can be conceived as one of the most prominent pieces of tragic literature. Hamlet was written By Shakespear in the estimated time frame of 1600-1601, which is the beginning of the seventeenth century.

Hamlet begins with the sighting of a ghost that roams around the castle of elsinore. The Watchman spot the ghost and they claim that the ghost resembles the dead King Hamlet. It is then brought to the attention of prince Hamlet. When Hamlet goes to inspect the sightings of the ghost, the ghost speaks to him. The apparition tells Hamlet that he is indeed the spirit of his dead father and that Hamlet’s uncle Claudius murdered him. The ghost orders Hamlet to seek revenge upon his uncle.

Hamlet devotes himself to avenging his father’s death. His Mother Gertrude and Claudius notice a change in Hamlets behavior and ask his friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to watch him. When Polonius the father of Hamlet’s love interest Ophelia learns of the possibility that hamlet is mad he ask Claudius to spy on Hamlet when he is with her. Claudius does spy on Hamlet and confirms that he is mad but is also taken back by the suggestion form Hamlet to Ophelia that she should join a nunnery.

A group of traveling actors comes to elsinore and Hamlet sees this as an opportunity to test his uncle by having the actors perform a scene that is exactly like the way Claudius killed his father, if Claudius is guilty he will react to the scene in a certain way. Claudius does react by getting up and leaving the room. Hamlet sees his reaction and follows him with the intent to kill him. When Hamlet comes upon Claudius he is praying and hamlet decides that if he killed him during his praying that Claudius’s soul would go to heaven.

Hamlet after deciding not to kill Claudius goes to confront his mother. From behind a curtain in his mom’s room he hears a noise and thinks it’s Claudius draws his sword and stabs into the curtain killing, not Claudius but Polonius. For his crime Hamlet is sent to England accompanied by his friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. What Hamlet does not know is that Claudius has given his friends sealed orders that when Hamlet arrives to England he should be put to death.

Ophelia who is greatly affected by her father’s death goes crazy and drowns herself in a river. Laertes who is Polonius’s son and Ophelia’s brother returns to his home only to find out that his father and sister are dead and Hamlet is being given the blame. After a pirate attack on Hamlets ship he returns to his home to continue his quest to avenge his fathers death. Once Claudius receives word that Hamlet has returned he devises a plan to kill Hamlet. Claudius sets it up so that Hamlet and Laertes will fence each other in a match and he will poison Laertes blade so when hamlet is struck he will die. Being that his former plan for Hamlets death did not come true Cladius has a backup plan. He poisons a goblet of wine in which he will get Hamlet to drink when he wins or scores a point.

The fencing match begins and Hamlet scores the first point, Claudius offers Hamlet a drink from the tainted cup as a reward for his point, hamlet declines and accidentally his mother drinks from the goblet dying from the poison. Laertes strikes Hamlet with his sword but hamlet does not die immediately. Laertes who after being sliced by his own sword tells hamlet that Claudius is responsible for his mother’s death, he does this then dies. Hamlet then stabs Claudius and forces him to drink the rest of the poisoned wine, Claudius dies as well as Hamlet.

My reaction to this play can be summed up in the word “wow”. Never have I read such a tragic and gloomy play. Hamlet is what I want to call a mystery. No matter how many times I or any reader may read Hamlet we will still come away with unanswered questions. Hamlet becomes obsessed with avenging his father’s deathn any other character face with the evidence that proves his uncles is guilty would stop, but hamlet finds the need to look further until he definitely approves his uncles guilt.

Claudius can be viewed as the antagonist of the play. Which basically means that he is the bad guy of the play. Claudius’s motive for killing King Hamlet is unclear to me. The only reasoning I can come up with is that he wanted the throne from King Hamlet. My next observation of Claudius is his love for Queen Gertrude. I believe this intended love to be false. Claudius only married queen Gertrude in order to ensure that Hamlet did not obtain the throne. We see that Claudius only cares for himself and Gertrude when she tells him of Polonius’s death, he does not comment on her well being but remarks on the fact that he would be in danger if he had been in the room.

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