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Self-Preservation in the Play “Glass Menagerie”

  • Date Submitted: 03/24/2010 12:04 AM
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Self-preservation in the Play “Glass Menagerie”

Self-preservation refers to the need shared by all beings to protect themselves from danger and to survive in their environment. It plays a major role in both survival in nature and survival in modern society. In the human world, the meaning of survival gets lot more complicated than survival in the wild---it’s not only about meeting the 5 basic needs of living but maintaining a sense of security and preserving one’s individuality and needs. Different approaches to cope with problems and difficult situations in life may result in different levels of success in surviving. In his modern play, “The Glass Menagerie”, Tennessee Williams explores the nature of Self-preservation through the way of escaping from the difficulties in reality. By depicting the internal thoughts and behaviors of the character Tom Winfield, he presents his audience how sometimes the choice of escaping and dodging away from an extreme difficult situation is considered an effective way to preserve one’s individual needs and individuality   in contemporary society.

Tom’s first attempt to protect himself from being crushed by the overwhelming stress and pressure from external demands is to maintain an escaping attitude towards them. In the first three scenes of the play, it’s not hard to see what kind of dismal situation the Winfield is in and how frustrating it’s for Tom to cope with it alone. Abandoned by his father at an early age, he now is the only man in the family. The burden of making enough money to afford a living falls all on his shoulder. He need to take care of his aging mother and an older sister Laura,   whose invert character disables her from growing up and getting a job to support this family. As a young man full of ambitions and dreams, Tom struggles between his sense of responsibility for the family and his own wants and needs. To try to maintain a balance between the two, he decides not to give in to the demands of his...


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