Thursday, July 20, 2006
The Glass Menagerie
Here's a tip. If you are writing an essay about The Glass Menagerie and don't mention the broken unicorn you're not paying attention. Not only did I love Laura's response to that, but it was also such a blatant use of symbolism that even a dense-headed reader like myself spotted it.
This was a beautifully written play. I wanted to pick little bits of the language out to post here, but they don't really work outside the structure of the play. I read this in one short afternoon at the YMCA. And yes, I do a lot of good reading there. What else am I going to do? Exercise? Anyway Alex Hurst of the BHS class of 2005 was lifeguarding and came over to me and said in a voice filled with the joy of reminiscence, "Oh! The Glass Menagerie! I read that for summer reading!" I was so pleased that he remembered the book - I asked if he liked it. "Of course," he replied, "look how short it is!" And with this I began quietly weeping.
Anyway - aside from its charming shortness this play also has depth and a lot of moral ambiguity. Is Tom a hero for saving himself or merely another selfish troll in a line of selfish trolls deserting the weak? I make it sound like I have an opinion, but I am actually very conflicted which is one of the reasons I really loved reading this.
Just a side note - with The Glass Menagerie, I have finished all of the summer reading books that I have previously read (which are really just this and Fahrenheit 451) so from here on out - they are all mysterious to me!
I didn't have a lot of books that came to mind after I read this so I asked some friends for suggestions for books with strong mothers who boss their children to near the point of insanity. They came up with Pride & Prejudice and A Light in the Piazza. Here is a shocking revelaton - I have never read P&P! I have seen several versions of the movie and it was my senior play in high school where I (if I do say so myself) stole the show with my magnificent swooning as Mrs. Bennett. I whipped through A Light in the Piazza and found it somewhat depressing and yet interesting. Basically a mother arranges a marriage for her strange little daughter in Italy in the 1950's - or as the book jacket calls it "modern times". Ha!
Really, if you like The Glass Menagerie you should just read more Williams. A Streetcar Named Desire is amazing. Also - the Beverly Public Library has Selected Letters of Tennessee Williams which is fascinating.