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In Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie, the character of Amanda Wingfield...

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jinzman2 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted January 11, 2013 at 6:31 AM via web

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In Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie, the character of Amanda Wingfield makes both of the statements below. Please explain the double standard.

 "All pretty girls are a trap, a pretty trap, and men expect them to be." 

"No girl can do worse than put herself at the mercy of a handsome appearance."

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 11, 2013 at 6:42 AM (Answer #1)

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One of the important aspects about Amanda is a character is that she chooses to ignore certain realities about her own life and to live in a world of illusion, much like her daughter does, where everything is about her and "gentleman callers" come knocking on the door every two minutes. Arguably, one of the key themes of this play is that the characters are more happy with their own illusory world than they ever are with the reality of the cold, clear light of day, and Amanda shows this through her two quotes. The second quote is particularly interesting, given what we are told by Tom about her husband and his father at the beginning of the play:

This is our father who left us a long time ago. He was a telephone man who fell in love with long distances; he gave up his job with the telephone company and skipped the light fantastic out of town...

Amanda, it turned out, did exactly what she says in this second quote, put herself "at the mercy of a handsome appearance," and this led directly to her marrying for love and marrying somebody who would soon abandon her and leave her trying to bring up two children by herself.

The first quote indicates the way that Amanda is still trapped in the past where, in the South, girls were regarded as "belles" and had to play the role of being alluring and "trapping" men to become their husbands. Her flirting and simpering and affected style of speech when Jim pays a visit is a clear example of a character who has not moved on from this stage of life. Thus the importance of these quotes lies in the way they reveal the double standards within Amanda herself and the way that she, like Laura, and arguably, like Tom, is unable to face reality, both in the present and in the past.

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