Broken Family In The Glass Menagerie

Good Essays
The Wingfields, A Broken Family

In The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams the Wingfield family takes center stage. In

some ways the Wingfields symbolize the classic dysfunction family, each very different and never able

to get along for more than short periods of time. As each of the family members holds very different

ideals, experiences, and values it is not hard to see why they don't function together as well as they

should. Moreover, in the play each family member seems to symbolize a unique emotion or aspect,

each integral to the family as a whole. The unity potentially created by working together could be

great, however the dissension between the family only serves to further symbolize the dreary and

hopeless aesthetic
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Laura is quiet and delicate, she is shy and never searches for adventure, a contrast to Tom.

However Laura doesn't feel the same way as her mother, in terms of marriage and stability. Due to this

she becomes a point of contention between the family members, and it becomes their duty to protect

her, adding another weight to Toms shoulders. Although he loves his sister dearly, his duty to the

family begins to sow the seeds of what eventually grows into his departure.

One issue in The Glass Menagerie that leads to family conflict is the lack of a father figure. Laura and Toms father left long ago, causing not only an absence of male authority, but also crippling

their mother emotionally, leaving her in constant fear of being abandoned. Due to the absence of an

authority figure, Tom acts out against his mother without fear of retribution, further damaging their

relationship throughout the play. Without someone to look up to as an example, Tom is left without a

leadership role, indecisive and unhappy with his life, causing him to lash out. Laura is also adversely

affected, left without a full time protective figure, bringing stress to Tom and her mother as they
…show more content…
While this is only one factor leading to unrest between the family

members, the lack of a father figure is common among broken families in society, and a focal point in

The Glass Menagerie.

Another major cause of the conflict between the Wingfields is a lack of proper communication.

While Toms mother wants the best for him, sometimes she vocalizes her concerns in an overly

prodding way, such as near the beginning of the play when she reprimands him for not chewing his

food properly (Williams 925). Such micromanaging over small details frustrates Tom, who is tired of

living only for his family, and focuses more on his life ahead. However, at the same time Tom doesn't

voice his opinions and concerns as properly as he should. Instead of calmly stating his desires

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