ContextThe Glass Menagerie by Tenesse Williams is set in the 1930s during the time period whereby the Americans went through a economical downturn called ‘The Great Depression’ as a direct result people became jobless, not earning enough to support their families. The economic downturn that resulted from the crashing of wall street affected the government, aswell as the people living under it.
It affects the mental and emotional psyche of the people, redefining the established ‘American Dream’. William presents the values and attitudes of the affected people in his stage play through the multiple conflicts created between the members of the dysfunctional family. He provides a social commentary towards key themes and issues that prevailed during the great depression.
Such as the perceived role of women, the dysfunctional relationships and behaviour within American families, individuals not being able to adapt to the expectations of their age and gender therefor not feeling belonged, the mental illness contained within people of the society however not talked about and the underlying tone of homosexuality which was seen as a taboo topic. Issue 1 The perceived role of women was a major issue presented in both the text The Glass Menagerie and Romulus, My father.
Whereby, women were in both text were seen as submissive that had to rely on a man to be able to live. The Glass Menagerie In The Glass Menagerie the issue of the perceived role of women was represented through the two characters Amanda and Laura whereby Amanda exceeded the expectation of women in the society and Laura challenges the expectation of women. Amanda values vanity, education and marriage which is expected by a woman during the context however Laura values freedom and has no interest in getting married.
Due to the different values that the mother and daughter have, this causes a negative attitude to reflect upon Laura by her mother in believing that she won’t have a good future without beauty as she won’t attract any ‘gentlemen callers’. Amanda tried to relive her past through Laura, whereby she expects Laura to have the same values as her. The expected Women’s role is shown through the characterisation and dialogue of Amanda. Amanda always used very feminine gestus and wore elegant dresses.
Furthermore she always told Laura to” stay fresh and pretty” from this the audience are able to interpret that since Amanda values femininity she would behave accordingly to what the society expects of a women. As Amanda is always so negative towards the values that Laura has, the audience are able to perceive that Laura isn’t portraying the society’s notion of a female. She doesn’t adhere to the quality that is searched for in a women, she is rather just a ‘girl than a ‘women’.
The female discourse is exhibited in Simone Beouviers quote whereby she says” no one is born as a female, rather, becomes a female” this expresses that a female isn’t accepted as a female due to her feminine sexual characteristic, rather her behaviour and her values should adheres to the expectation of the society. Through the whole stage play, Williams emphasis the value that woman have for men as they are the ‘breadwinner and without them they have no one to take care of their family. The main reason as to why woman are expected to value beauty is because society believes that’s what attracts ‘gentlemen callers’.
Therefore, in simple terms the expectation of woman is to behave a certain way that attracts men, and that is also what the women of time valued. Amanda Amanda represented the perfect ‘woman’ during the context of the play. She adhered to the expectation of women and also attracted men. She valued men. This is evident in her dialogue as multiple time she tells her daughter in a proud tone that she” had seventeen gentlemen callers” and that she was a “Southern Bell” From this it infers to the audience that she was very beautiful which is what men looked for.
However, it can alternatively be read that the way she describes herself and her desperate need and happiness for attention from the ‘gentlemen’ callers portrays her to be a whore’. A female with morals wouldn’t be so proud of attracting so many men. However the readers are able to perceive that she has been manipulated by the society to value all that attention upon her. -BLANCHE WILLIAMS ADOPTS THE SOUTHERN BELL COMMONLY IN MOST OF HIS PLAYS. In the character of blanche whore , valed beauty, Laura Laura on the other hand is a contrast to Amanda.
She doesn’t value beauty or gentlemen callers. The audenice can infer that the reason that she doesn’t value the gentlemen callers is because the lack of confident she has towards her appearance and also because of her physical disability which is seen as downgrading in the society. Women are meant to be dependent on a male figure during the context, however Laura seeks freedom. William presents this through her glass ornaments of the ‘unicorn’. Unicorns are fairytale animals that roam around the sky on their own will.
This is how Laura wants to live her life. She wants to be able to have freedom, and not depend on a guy also escape reality to her ‘fairytale’ world. Romulus, My Father Similarly in Romulus, My Father by Raymond Gaita, the way females are portrayed are submissive and are dependent on a male figure. This is shown through the character of Christine. Similar to The Glass Menagerie the mother had a disconnection with the father. Due to having a lack of male figure, Christina is mentally unstable. Gaita, portrays his mother as dependent on a man.
She runs away with Mitru because she doesn’t get enough attention from her husband. From this the audience are able to understand that socially due to the context of the novel whereby it is postal-war women valued a male figure to support their family. They valued the attention they receive from the men. Her running away with another male, presents the incompetency she has to be a nurturing mother to her son. She doesn’t value love and affection from her son rather from men. This is very similar to the way Amanda was presented in The Glass Menagerie.
Men found her attractive beyond her physical features because of the way she combined vivacity and intense, haunted sadness” Gaita mentioning this, the audience can perceive that the physical appearance of a women during the time was valued and important. She did not adhere to the expectations of a mother however she did adhere to the expectations that a male had upon women being attractive. Throughout the novel, Gaita explains to the audience that his mother” longed for company”. This can be inferred that she valued being given attention to and that’s why she was describe as a “women who liked men”.
As the society of men valued beauty and she could offer that beauty, they gave her the attention that she valued and seeked for. Thus provoking her to cheat on her husband with his brother. This proofs to the audience that she valued men, she needs the love and attention of a men and she uses her beauty to attract them which is similar to The Glass Menagerie. In both the text, the women are portrayed to be promiscuous. She valued the presence of a mam rather than being there with her son.
The attitude that the author has towards his mother is nloving and not caring whether he portrays her in a negative light whereby the audience see her a whore. Furthermore, in The Glass Menagerie the Amanda the mother is portrayed as unable to look after her kids without a male support. She always expected Tom to look after the family, basically taking over the role of the father and she wanted to arry Laura off so that she would have someone to look after her. This is similar in Romulus, My Father as Christine was always dependent on a male figure. This shows the value the women of the time had towards men.
Society expected women to reply on men. Issue 2 Perspective Both the text The Glass Menagerie by Tennesse Williams and Romulus, My Father by Raymond Gaita are in the perspective of a male. Thus this provides an advantage for the way the males are depicted in both the text and disadvantage of the portrayal of females. The females in both text are portrayed to be promiscuous who were selfish. As the authors are males, there is no insight to the way the female characters feel. Thus the way they portray the women is very biased as it is in their perspective.
Both the authors have a lack of understanding the perspective of their mothers. Furthermore, both the text are relies on memory therefore the perspective of both the authors are tainted. The audience aren’t able to fully rely on the source that they are given as their memory would be tainted. Important details would have clearly been omitted or miswritten. As the perspective is only thorugh one person, they would only select the details that conveys to the ideas they want the audience to perceive and portrays them in a postive light.