"The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams, Scenes 1–2

May 15, 2013
Amanda Wingfield clings to her memories of her youth while living with her two children, Laura and Tom. When Tom brings a friend home for dinner, the family's precarious balance is disrupted.

Here are links to our lists for the play: Scenes 1–2, Scenes 3–4, Scenes 5–6, Scene 7

Here are links to our lists for other works by Tennessee Williams: Sweet Bird of Youth, A Streetcar Named Desire
The Wingfield apartment is in the rear of the building, one of those vast hive-like conglomerations of cellular living-units that flower as warty growths in overcrowded urban centers of lower middle-class population and are symptomatic of the impulse of this largest and fundamentally enslaved section of American society to avoid fluidity and differentiation and to exist and function as one interfused mass of automatism.
At the rise of the curtain, the audience is faced with the dark, grim rear wall of the Wingfield tenement.
This building is flanked on both sides by dark, narrow alleys which run into murky canyons of tangled clotheslines, garbage cans, and the sinister latticework of neighboring fire escapes.
Just beyond, separated from the living room by a wide arch or second proscenium with transparent faded portieres (or second curtain), is the dining room.
I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.
Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental, it is not realistic.
A well-cooked meal has lots of delicate flavors that have to be held in the mouth for appreciation.
AMANDA [lightly]: Temperament like a Metropolitan star!
Why, sometimes there weren’t chairs enough to accommodate them all.
She also needed to have a nimble wit and a tongue to meet all occasions.
She addresses Tom as though he were seated in the vacant chair at the table though he remains by the portieres.
Among my callers were some of the most prominent young planters of the Mississippi Delta—planters and sons of planters!
Her eyes lift, her face glows, her voice becomes rich and elegiac.
Bates was one of my bright particular beaux!
She slips in a fugitive manner through the half-open portieres and draws them gently behind her.
Gradually Laura’s figure becomes apparent and the screen goes out.
At the sound of her ascent, Laura catches her breath, thrusts the bowl of ornaments away, and seats herself stiffly before the diagram of the typewriter keyboard as though it held her spellbound.
She has on one of those cheap or imitation velvety-looking cloth coats with imitation fur collar.
Amanda leans against the shut door and stares at Laura with a martyred look.
AMANDA: I’ll be all right in a minute, I’m just bewildered—[She hesitates.]—by life.
AMANDA: As you know, I was supposed to be inducted into my office at the D.A.R. this afternoon.
But I stopped off at Rubicam’s Business College to speak to your teachers about your having a cold and ask them what progress they thought you were making down there.
I assured her she did, that you had been going to classes since early in January.
Fifty dollars’ tuition, all of our plans—my hopes and ambitions for you—just gone up the spout, just gone up the spout like that.
AMANDA: You did all this to deceive me, just for deception?
I know so well what becomes of unmarried women who aren’t prepared to occupy a position.
I’ve seen such pitiful cases in the South—barely tolerated spinsters living upon the grudging patronage of sister’s husband or brother’s wife!—stuck away in some little mousetrap of a room—encouraged by one in-law to visit another—little birdlike women without any nest—eating the crust of humility all their life!
AMANDA [absently]: He must have had a jolly disposition.
Why, you’re not crippled, you just have a little defect—hardly noticeable, even!
One thing your father had plenty of—was charm!

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