The Glass Menagerie
1. What does the setting described in the opening stage direction tell you about the
Wingfields? Consider especially the adjectives and symbolism of the alley and the fire
2. Who is the “fifth character” in the play, and how is his presence established? In what ways
is Tom a parallel to this character?
3. What does Amanda reveal about her past in scene 1? How does Williams reveal that
Amanda often dwells in the past?
4. What happened to Laura at Rubicam’s Business College? How can you account for her
behavior? What plan of Amanda’s did she upset?
5. What new plan for Laura’s future does Amanda begin to develop in scene 2? Why is the
plan impracticable? Why is the image of Jim introduced here?
6. Summarize the argument between Tom and Amanda in scene 3? What does Amanda
assert about Tom? What does he claim about his life? Why is Laura spotlighted
throughout the argument?
7. What sort of agreement does Amanda try to reach with Tom about Laura in scene 4?
8. How do Amanda and Laura react to the news of the gentleman caller? Describe Laura’s
feelings toward Jim during the conversation and the dancing in scene 7? Describe how he
changes after the kiss.
9. Explain the symbolism of the unicorn (both whole and broken). Why does Laura give it to
Jim as a souvenir?
10. What is Tom’s situation at the end? To what degree has he achieved his dreams of escape
11. Describe Amanda’s and Laura’s concluding situations. Why does Laura blow out the
candles? What is the future for these women?
1. Explain the most striking nonrealistic aspects of the play. What do these contribute to the play’s
meaning and impact? Which aspect is the most effective? Why?
2. Which character in the play changed significantly? To what extent do the characters succeed or
fail? How do they try to escape the realities they face?
3. Consider Tom as character and narrator. Explain why his language changes as he shifts between
narrator and character. What does the character dream about and strive for? What does the
narrator learn about these dreams and strivings?
4. Explain why Laura cannot deal with reality. What does her glass menagerie symbolizes?
5. Williams says that there is much to admire, pity, and laugh at in Amanda. What aspects of her
character are admirable? Pitiable? Laughable? Which reaction is dominant for you at the close of
the play? Why?
6. Tom calls Jim the play’s “most realistic character.” In what ways is Jim realistic? How are his
dreams and goals more (or less) realistic than Tom’s?
7. At the opening, Tom (as narrator) mentions the “social background,” and he remarks on it
throughout. Discuss how this background relates to the play, especially the events occurring in
8. Discuss the play’s religious allusions and imagery, especially Malvolio the Magician, the “Ave
Maria,” the “Annunciations,” the Paradise Dance Hall, and Laura’s candles. How do these
references affect the play’s level of reality?
1. In the opening stage direction the narrator describes the setting taking place in the
Wingfield’s apartment. He describes the location by stating that the building is in
between two dark alleys along each side. The alleys are narrow and they have tangled
clotheslines, garbage cans, and fire escapes all along the sides of the alleys. The
description of their apartment tells us that the Wingfield’s are in the lower middle class.
The alleys are described as being dark, meaning that the family’s life is shady and the
tangled clotheslines can be the problems they all have to face. The fire escape is another
symbolism, In the opening stage it is said that huge buildings seem to be burning and
they all must have a way to escape. Just like people from the building try to escape the
Wingfields family all try to find a way to escape. Amanda wants to escape from her past.
Laura wants to escape from her mother and decides to focus on her collection or play her
Victrola lastly Tom wants to find a way to escape to go into the Marines without making
his sister suffers.
2. The “fifth character” in the play is Tom’s father. Who is mentioned multiple times,
especially when Amanda goes and rambles on about her days in the Blue Mountain. She
goes on and talks about him and tells her children how they fell in love through long
distance. He abandoned the family 16 years ago and all they have of him is a picture of
which he is dressed in his uniform. Tom is paralleled to this character because he
described himself as the following: “bastard son of a bastard.” The picture shows him in a
uniform, which relates to Tom because he is planning on attending the Marines. Also the
fact that he is going to be abandoning his family just like his father did 16 years ago.
3. In scene one Amanda reveals her past about Blue Mountain and the 17 gentleman callers.
She tells her children that she was very popular back in her days and she had many men
(gentleman callers) waiting to meet her. She also talks about how she “understood the art
of conversation” therefore she wasn’t shy with any of the men and had a great way with
words. William reveals that she dwells in her past because once she was abandon and was
left with no husband she feels that the only thing she can look back on is how good her
youth years were. She feels that her way of word is the only good thing she has left in life.
4. While attending Rubicam’s Business College, Laura got indigestion during her typing
class. It was the day before her speed test and she vomited in class. She was humiliated
and decided never to come back to class because she was afraid to see the other
student’s reaction. Amanda had a set plan for Laura, which was for her to attend college
get a business degree in which she could support her in the future. By dropping out of
college she disappointed her mother and her plan. Next Amanda knew that the only way
Laura can be supported later in life was if she got married. There Amanda desperately was
seeking for a gentleman for her daughter.
5. Towards the end of scene two Amanda asked Laura if she has ever liked a guy. She tells
her that she did like someone in high school and then begins to show her his picture
from the year book. Amanda wants to find a gentleman that would marry Laura. She
believes that because she dropped out of college this is the only way Laura will be able to
survive in the future. The situation is impracticable because Laura is very shy and does not
know how to begin conversation with someone else. The introduction of Jim in this scene
shows foreshadowing of what is going to happen later on in the play.
6. During scene three Amanda and Tom get into a huge argument about Tom always
leaving to go to the movies practically every single night. Amanda calls him selfish and
she accuses him of being selfish and that is why Tom acts the way he does around the
house. Tom backs himself up and says that if he was selfish he would have left both of
them a while ago and would have stopped supporting them. He could leave whenever
her wants and go and seek for adventure, but decides not to because he does not want
to abandon them like his father did. The whole time the spotlight is on Laura because the
argument is about her and she would be severely upset if Tom leaves.
7. Amanda wants Tom to invite some gentleman from the warehouse to have dinner with
the family so he can meet Laura. She is trying to convince Tom to bring a man for Laura
that is educated, hard worker, does not drink, and can support Laura by marrying her.
8. Amanda’s reaction to the gentleman caller is ecstatic. She is very pleased and right away
begins asking Tom about his friend Jim. She asked one question after the other. For
example “does he drink?” “How much money does he make?” “Does he know about
Laura” etc. On the other hand Laura is extremely nervous because she is about to see he
high school crush after 6 years. She doesn’t want to see him. Once Jim arrives, it take
Laura some time to go and talk to Jim. Although he has changed and Laura feels more
comfortable with him while they are having their conversation. She begins to gain
confidence Jim tells her that she should believe that she is crimpled. After they kiss Laura
gets her hopes up, but are soon crushed once she finds out that Jim is marrying someone
9. The unicorn being Laura’s favorite piece represents herself as a whole. A glass unicorn is
both fragile and very unique just like her. When the unicorn breaks it represents Jim
because now it’s like any regular glass it shatters and breaks. It can also represent hope
for Laura. Once it’s broken she loses that hope. It allows Laura to recognize fantasy from
10. At the end Tom continues to go from place to place seeking for that adventure he wants.
Although he has escaped his house and work he feels just as unhappy as he was from the
beginning of the play. He achieve he dream of escaping physically because he no longer
is with his sister and mother, but emotionally he can never escape it because his
consciousness is taunting him for leaving his sister alone.
11. Laura blowing out the candle in the end tells us that her image stays with him and haunts
him although she is currently not present with him. She is not physically there, but it is
very difficult for Tom to erase her from his memory. I believe that both Laura and
Amanda will have to begin working or find themselves a husband that will take care of
them. Laura has gained some confidence and she will have more luck finding a
1. The most nonrealistic aspect of the play I believe would have to be Amanda talking about
her past and saying she had 17 gentlemen waiting for her. This helped us see how
Amanda was as a character and how she had no importance in her son’s life. She was
always criticizing him even though he was the one supporting her every since her
husband left. The fact that Tom wanted to join the Marines was the aspect most effective
because he had to find a way to tell his sister so that she wouldn’t feel abandoned again.
Tom was tired of living at home and he wanted to go out and seek for adventure and
therefore joined the Marines, but didn’t tell his mother or sister.
2. The character that changed the most I think was Laura. At the beginning we knew her as
shy nervous young woman. She believed her flaw was that she couldn’t achieve in
anything because she was crippled. She had nervous break downs and never
accomplished anything she started. She dropped out from high school and college. In
high school she dropped out because she believed that people were making fun of her
for having a crippled leg. In college she left because she had a indigestion problem and
vomited before their first speed type test. She was afraid of how society would treat her
and didn’t want to face the truth. When she talked to Jim at dinner the day he came over,
he told her that people didn’t notice that she was crippled. He told her that she was a
normal person just like everyone else. Everyone in life have their own defects. Laura was
able to keep a good conversation going and gained some confidence. At the point where
the glass unicorn breaks there Laura realizes the difference between fantasy and reality.
3. When Tom is the narrator he speaks using high diction. He is formal to the audience. He
is a himself in the play he uses low diction. He shifts from high to low throughout the play
letting us know when he is narrating. Tom dreams about going out and seeking for
adventure, He begins by joining the Marines, but now must face reality and tell his sister
that he will be leaving soon. He learns that by trying to satisfy his dreams and hopes he
lets down the only person he really cares about.
4. Laura doesn’t face reality because she is so caught up collection her glass pieces. The
glass menagerie is a symbolism used as an escape from reality. She withdrawals’ herself
from society. The shyness and with her disability make it hard for her to interact with new
people. She cares more about her little glass animals she collects, and doesn’t go out and
look for friends.
5. Amanda can be considered admirable in the sense that she wants the best for her
children. Although she is always criticizing them she wants them to succeed in life. For
Laura she wants her to find a man that will always be there for her and not abandon her
life her husband did to her. And for Tom she is just be protective because she doesn’t
want anything bad happening to him. She is constantly asking him why he keeps going to
the movies because she doesn’t him getting into trouble. Other then admirable she also
has pitiful aspects. Pitiable because from the play we see that the only good aspect in life
she had was being popular and knew how to hold a conversation. She relies on her past
and doesn’t stick to the present. She is also laughable because although she had 17
gentlemen lined up she pick the man that she believed she love, but ended up
abandoning her with 2 children. At the end of the play my reaction towards Amanda is
laughable. The fact why I chose that was because she keeps calling Tom selfish for
wanting to go out and seek for his adventure (his dream), when she is the one being
selfish for wanting him to stay and support her because she has no one else. Throughout
the play she keeps saying how she had 17 gentlemen, but now she has not even one.
6. Tom calls Jim the “realistic character” because Jim actually has a set goal of his life. Jim is
getting married. He is currently making more money at the warehouse than Tom and he
is also attending night school to get his degree. Jim is working hard to have the best later
on in life. All these aspects can apply to any hard working man in society. Compared to
Tom’s dreams and goals Jim’s are more realistic because they are more likeable to
happen. Tom is just seeking for adventure just like what he sees from the movies he goes
and watches. He is not enjoying his life as it is and when carrying a negative attitude you
get nowhere in life.
7. In the opening scene Tom is narrating the events that are taking place during the time he
was in the Marines. In American the economy was dissolving. In Spain a revolution was
taking place at the time. There was also “shouting and confusion” taking place in a town
called Guernica in Spain. Throughout the world he say disturbance of labor. All the way
from American to Spain. There were some peaceful cities such as Chicago, Cleveland,
Saint Louis. The social background place an important aspect because Tom is telling us
every place he has been and what conflicts are being faced there.
8. The play’s religious allusions and imagery with Malvolio the Magician is the nail. Malvolio
escaped from a coffin that was nailed shut. A religious allusion to the nail would be that
Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross with nails on both his hands and on his feet. “Ave
Maria” is a Roman Catholic prayer in which we pray for the Virgin Maria. In the play it is
used as a dramatic song during scene 4. The Paradise Dance Hall is an allusion to the
paradise that Adam and Eve first stepped foot on. There they had everything and had no
worries of anything. Laura’s candles represent hope. When she blows out the candle at
the last scene she is saying there is no more hope for Tom
Cram Sheet on Glass Menagerie:
Tom Wingfield is the narrator in addition to the main character in the play. In the opening scene he is telling
the audience how the play is made up of his own memories. Tom works in a shoe warehouse in order to support his
mother and sister after their father abandon them 16 years ago. He is extremely unhappy with his life because he
dreams about seeking for adventure and writing poetry. He is constantly being nagged by his mother and for that
reason he goes to the movies practically every night to escape his miserable life. He soon decides to join the Marines
because he feels that he cannot support living at home. He leaves without notifying his sister Laura and that thought
haunts him every night for he did not want to abandon her just like his father did.
The Glass Menagerie deals with two Tom Wingfields. The first Tom which is set to be the narrator, who later
introduces his second self as the character. The major idea is find out why his own consciousness is forcing him to live
and re-live the situation of the play. We are to believe that the unreal characters in the play are all part Tom’s
consciousness as well. All he simply wanted to do was to escape from his own miserable life and go out and seek for
adventure. Even though he escapes from his apartment and finds freedom physically, emotionally he does not. The
fact that his memories are haunting him again and again, it’s believe that he is undergoing a state of grief and guilt
attached to his actions for choosing to abandon his mother and sister.
Throughout the play we encounter 3 major themes; disappointment, escape, and expectations. Every
character faces one of the themes. Beginning with Amanda, she faces disappointment by having her dreamed crushed
when she was abandoned by her husband and was left with 2 children. Later on throughout the play she is
disappointed that he daughter Laura is shy and has no gentlemen callers waiting for her. She also had expectations
for her children. First for Laura she wanted her to finish college and get a business degree so that she will have
something to rely on for financial support in the future. When she founded out she dropped out it went back to
disappointment, but then Amanda wanted Laura to find a gentleman to marry. Listening to their mother ramble on
about her Blue Mountain experiences drove the children crazy. All they wanted to do was to escape from reality
especially their mother. Laura would escape from reality and focus on her glass menagerie collecting different animal
shapes. Or she would play the Victrola Whenever she feels nervous, she played the old records that her father left
behind. Tom would escape by frequently attending movies late at night. Tom felt trapped at home and therefore he
went out as often as he could. The big escape he needed to focus on was to find a way of escaping without
destroying his family or abandoning them. This led into the big conflict of the play.
Tom has recently joined the Marines thinking that this would bring adventure to his life. Something he has
been dreaming for, for a really long time. Knowing that he is about to leave soon, must find a way to tell his sister.
The photograph of his father is another symbolism fir it is mocking Tom. He is trying not to abandon the family like
his father did. Even more complications begin to develop when he finds out there is no one to marry his sister. That
one guy he tries to hook his sister up with is engaged. Although Jim does bring a great significance into Laura’s life by
building her up with some self confidence, she grants him with a souvenir, a glass unicorn. The unicorn Jim broke
during their dance. Being Laura’s favorite one she decides to give it to Jim it is a reminder of her. The fire escape
another symbolic object that represents a way to escape from the issues of the Wingfield household. At the beginning
of the play we can visualize Tom walking back in forth near the fire escape. He is trying to find a way to eliminate the
haunting memories he has.
The Glass Menagerie has a great deal of symbolic objects along with very critical themes. All in which are
found within every character. The most important theme is escape because although we see Tom physically separated
from his family, mentally his consciousness is haunting him and continues to make him relive his past experiences
over and over again. Although it is all memory and is stated to be “non realistic” Tom must find a way to make it
reality and erase it from his mind.