Autobiographical elements of The Glass Menagerie

Question: Discuss Autobiographical elements of The Glass Menagerie.


Tennessee Williams‘ depiction of the Wingfield family is strikingly like his portrayals of his own family, and subsequently, the play can be deciphered as a personal history. Like almost all of the autobiographical writings, this play also depicts the life saga of the writer. Every autobiographical writing has some definite features. Let’s scan the play to find out the autobiographical elements of it.

The first-person point of view

The whole play is written from the first-person point of view. The author takes a character to narrate history to the audience.

Presence of certain points

Autobiographical writing must include all the information that is considered important. For example, personal information like name, age, date of birth, place of habitation, etc. Besides, it also should be mentioned to the family that the author has, his or her siblings, the people that mark the important matters in his or her life. There, in autobiographical writing, should be mentioned the educational qualification that the author received, also the place of studies.

All the above things about autobiographical writing are presented in the play “The Glass Menagerie”. So, from this point of view, it is an autobiographical piece of writing.

Non-fictional writing

The personal agreement is set up between the writer and the audience, where all that is connected is real. The writer in this work has the supreme opportunity in which he states his thoughts or emotions about the occasions and how they impacted him.

As the narrator, Tom tells his life story from the flashback in front of the audience. He tells his true history of his life, his family members. For being a memory play, he also enjoys unusual freedom of convention.

Related to the life of the author

The autobiography is described by the way that the author, who is likewise a storyteller, is simultaneously the hero of the story that is described. The author is the focal point of the work as he is recounting his own story.

In “The Glass Menagerie”, the narrator, also the hero of the play, Tom describes the most personal secrets of his own life in front of the audience. At the beginning portion, he says that-

“I am the narrator of the play, and also a character in it.”

He depicts all the facts that happened in his own life, and in many cases to put them in the viewpoint of what he has lived.

Characters match with the author’s personal life

For creating an autobiographical piece of writing, the author selects such types of characters that match with his or her family members or the people of his own life. In “The Glass Menagerie”, Tom himself reflects Tennessee Williams. There are many likenesses between his life and William’s life. The workplace, their ideology, their point of view about life- all are the same.

On the other hand, Laura is the prototype of Rose, sister of Williams. Rose suffered from mental disease and underwent a lobotomy. This thing was such a matter of sorrow for Williams. Here, in this play, Laura has also a defect that is she is crippled. This thing as well suffers Tom a lot.

Tom’s mother Amanda and his father also mirror Williams’ parents. Williams’ mother Edwina tried so hard to push Rose to be strong-hearted and face society. Amanda also does this with Laura. Again, Tom’s father is a telephone man, who gave up the job with the telephone company and flew from his family. On the other hand, Williams’ father was a traveler and he was also not often at home.

Include hopes and plans for the future

In autobiographical writing, hopes and future plans are included. The characters of autobiographical writing hope for their better lifestyle. That’s why they plan for their future. Amanda always hopes that the life of her children will be better than the past and the present. She is worried about her children’s future. Once, Laura says to her brother-

“Mother’s afraid I’m going to be an old maid.”

So she always seduces Tom to be serious about his life and inspires Laura that her defect is nothing so big problem, if she wants, she can overcome it.


After the vivid and deep discussion, it is clear that almost all the important autobiographical elements are present in the play “The Glass Menagerie”. Williams has shown his own real-life history in this play, which means it seems that the play is an instance of the author’s life.

S Ridoy Kumar
S Ridoy Kumar
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