Obsession of Amanda Wingfield with the past responsible for the doomed present

Obsession of Amanda Wingfield with the past responsible for the doomed present

Question: How far is Amanda Wingfield’s obsession with the past responsible for the doomed present in “The Glass Menagerie”?


In the memory play “The Glass Menagerie”, Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) shows how people can be influenced by their past and destroy their present by the effect of the past. Amanda Wingfield, the mother of Tom and Laura, is the best example of this kind of person in the play. She is so much infected by her past and that deep infection of her heart is destructing the present.

Existence of bitter conjugal life

Amanda’s conjugal life was not as good as expected. We can say her ‘abandoned wife’. Her husband forsook her about sixteen years ago with no words. Tom says at the very beginning of the play-

“This is our father who left us a long time ago.”

Amanda raised her two children with so many struggles. She did not get enough love from her husband, and this made her past harsh. She utilizes different escape tricks so as to bear her current situation throughout everyday life.

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Obsession with self-beauty

In her youth, Amanda was a southern belle who was the darling of her small town’s social scene. At the point when her current life gets intolerable, she remembers the times of her youth when she lived at Blue Mountain and had seventeen gentlemen callers in a single Sunday evening. During a conversation, Amanda says to Tom-

“One Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain- your mother- received- seventeen!- gentlemen callers!”

Amanda used to compare the lifestyle of her youth and present. She feels disappointed in her present life. She wants her children to bring that happiness to her life what she has lost already.

No compromise

In her life, Amanda has never compromised with herself and the lives of her children. Her only goal is to regain her lost happiness through her children. For this, she never focuses on the load of the family on Tom. She never focuses on Laura also, that she is slightly disabled by one leg. She always pushes them towards success. And this thing ruined her present life.

Lack of evaluating power

Amanda is no doubt a desperate woman for sure. Because of her infatuation, she never understands Tom. All-day, Tom works hard to maintain his family. He has a strong addiction to poetry. He seeks love, adventure, and romance. But all these instincts of Tom seem inhuman and discourteous to Amanda. She always wants him to shine in life. The manner in which she treats Tom is a response to the family’s departure from her husband. This causes her to stick more diligently to her child, and her sticking transforms into an endeavor to interfere with his life.

Rapid decision making

This is Amanda’s other obsession that made her present life destructive. From the depression of her past life, she always wants to comfort in the present life and that is why she never thinks a second time before making a decision. When Tom tells her that he found a gentleman caller for Laura, she should have to check out that man before agreeing. But she does not do so. She instantly decides to bring that gentleman caller to her home. And this rapid decision makes Laura suffer. When Laura learns that Jim is already engaged with someone else, she feels heartbroken.

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So, as is discussed above, we can say that Amanda is a tragic figure in the play from a point of view. Her harsh past is only the reason behind her bitter present. She always remains obsessed with the memory of her past days, and this affects her present so deeply and ruining her existent.

S Ridoy Kumar
S Ridoy Kumar
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