Essay on the Dysfunctional Family of The Glass Menagerie

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The Dysfunctional Family of The Glass Menagerie

Dysfunctional. Codependent. Enmeshed. Low self-esteem. Emotional problems of the modern twenty-first century or problems of the past? In his play, The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams portrays a southern family in the 1940's trying to deal with life's pressures, and their own fears after they are deserted by their husband and father. Although today, we have access to hundreds of psychoanalysis books and therapists, the family problems of the distant past continue to be the family problems of the present.

The three family members are adults at the time of this play, struggling to be individuals, and yet, very enmeshed and codependent with one another. The
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More and more you remind me of your father! He was out all hours without explanation!-Then left! Goodbye! And me with the bag to hold..." (35). Her worst fears are realized and Tom leaves. He travels the world; Amanda is left to care for Laura; and Laura continues with her only interests in life, the glass menagerie and her Victrola.

The Glass Menagerie could have been improved with a happy ending. Tom came to believe he was destined to follow in his father's footsteps. "I'm like my father. The bastard son of a bastard! Did you notice how he's grinning in his picture in there? And he's been absent going on sixteen years!" Tom left to travel the world, thinking this would bring him happiness, but he continued to feel guilty about leaving Laura. His closing words of the play reflect this guilt, "Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be!...I run into the movies or a bar, I buy a drink, I speak to the nearest stranger-anything that can blow out your candles"(97). Consequently, he never achieved true freedom, since Laura's memory continued to haunt him. If the story would have continued, I am sure Laura would have continued to play with her glass animals and listen to the Victrola; Amanda would have continued to babble about how Tom had turned out just like his father and what were they going to do.

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