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The Glass Menagerie Paperback – June 17, 1999

148 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The revolutionary newness of The Glass Menagerie . . . was in its poetic lift, but an underlying hard dramatic structure was what earned the play its right to sing poetically. -- Arthur Miller

With the advent of The Glass Menagerie . . . Tennessee Williams emerged as a poet-playwright and a unique new force in theatre throughout the world. -- Lyle Leverich in "Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams"

About the Author

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) is the acclaimed author of many books of letters, short stories, poems, essays, and a large collection of plays, including The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Camino Real, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Orpheus Descending, The Night of the Iguana, and The Rose Tattoo.

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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions Books
  • Paperback: 104 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; Some Pages Turned Down, Name on Side edition (June 17, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811214044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811214049
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983), one of the 20th century's most superb writers, was also one of its most successful and prolific. His classic works include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, Summer and Smoke, Camino Real, Sweet Bird of Youth, Night of the Iguana, Orpheus Descending, and The Rose Tattoo.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
Amanda Wingfield, the matriarch of "The Glass Menagerie," always tells her daughter, Laura, that she should look nice and pretty for gentleman callers, even though Laura has never had any callers at their St. Louis apartment. Laura, who limps because of a slight physical deformity, would rather spend her time playing with the animals in her glass menagerie and listening to old phonograph records instead of learning shorthand and typing so she can be employable. When she learns Laura has only been pretending to go to secretarial school, Amanda decides Laura must have a real gentleman caller and insists her son Tom, who works at a shoe factory, find one immediately. After a few days, Tom tells Amanda he has invited a young man named Jim O'Connor home for dinner and at long last Laura will have her first gentleman caller.

The night of the dinner Amanda does every thing she can to make sure Laura looks more attractive. However, when Laura realizes that the Jim O'Connor who is visiting is possibly the same Jim on whom she had a crush in high school, she does not want to go through with the dinner. Although she has to be excused from the dinner because she has made herself physically ill, Laura is able to impress Jim with her quiet charm when the two of them keep company in the living room and she finally loses some of her shyness. When Jim gives Laura her first kiss, it looks as if Amanda's plans for Laura's happiness might actually come true. But no one has ever accused Tennessee Williams of being a romantic.

"The Glass Menagerie" was the first big success in the long and storied career of playwright Tennessee Williams.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Faulknernut on May 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
Sometimes, the most important and influential characters are those that never come forth and make an appearance. This is the case in Williams' The Glass Menagerie. The absent father serves as an explanation and a foreshadow for why his wife, Amanda; his daughter, Laura; and his son, Tom behave as they do.
The story has somewhat a dry line; however, it is not so much the plot but the characterization that makes this story memorable, introducing odd and unique characters that can be, unusually enough, identified with. Many who venture into this work see the characters by their surfaces only-a loony, demanding mother; a shy daughter; and an uncaring brother. However, this play requires a deeper look, a search for an explanation that reveals that the mother is not nuts, only lonely and worried her son will abandon her, just as her worthless husband has. She has fears, such as worrying that her Laura will become alone and unsupported, just as she is. Laura can also be examined, discovering she is not only shy, but is a victim of low-self-esteem, for her disability causes her to believe she is unable to be like others, never able to partake in the activities other girls enjoy, such as dancing; thus, she lives a life in solitude, for that is where she feels unexposed. Tom, too, with a closer look, can be viewed as a man tiresome of being treated as a boy, stuck in a world he is unhappy with, desiring escape to follow his dreams.
A close characterization reveals the turmoil inflicted by the father, exposing characters with problems, worries, fears, and desires. This is a play about real life, a dysfunctional family who wants only the happiness that they cannot achieve. This, by far, is Williams' greatest work yet.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on June 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
This drama of the Wingfield family is one of the twentieth century's great American plays, and it is no surprise that it is still taught throughout the country as an example of fine theater. The characters are psychologically true for their 1930's setting, and they reveal themselves brilliantly through their dialogue. The story is simple, the symbolism is obvious and readily understandable, the claustrophobic and depressing atmosphere is heightened by the fact that all the action takes place in a small apartment, and the line between reality and dream world, while clear to the audience, is tragically unclear to the players on stage.
Though the play may be structurally and aesthetically satisfying to an older audience familiar with this period, it may be less successful, after sixty years, to a contemporary audience. Amanda is so meddlesome that her good heart, her dreams for her family, and her control over Tom are unrealistic by today's standards. Tom, with his sense of obligation toward the family, sometimes appears personally weak. Most difficult, however, is Laura, so pathologically shy and introverted that she is happy to stay indoors all day, polishing her glass animals and remaining completely dependent on her brother and mother to support and protect her.
This has always been one of my favorite plays, but reading or watching it now feels a bit like watching a costume drama. Though it is brilliantly written, its characters and dramatic situations are so different from our twenty-first century lives, that the play and characters really come alive only when analyzed in conjunction with the social context in which they were originally presented. For a modern audience, Laura may be more pathetic than tragic. Mary Whipple
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