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‘Annunciation’ refers to Tom’s announcement to Amanda, in scene five, that they are going to have a gentleman caller for Laura. This is just what Amanda (if not Laura herself) has been longing for. Much of the scene is comic, as Amanda starts to excitedly make plans for the visit and badgers Tom with all sorts of questions about Jim, the prospective caller, for instance marvelling at the fact that he is ‘Irish on both sides and yet doesn’t drink’ (scene 5).Tom is vastly annoyed at such questions, but Amanda’s enthusiasm is not to be dimmed.
It should be noted that the term ‘Annunciation’ has a formal religious meaning, referring to the Angel Gabriel prophesying Jesus’s birth to the Virgin Mary. No religious connotations are intended in the play, but the use of the word is striking and highlights the overwhelming importance of the gentleman caller’s coming for the Wingfields.
Amanda certainly pins all her hopes on this visit, and towards the end of scene five she even breaks down in tears when left alone with Laura. This shows just how concerned she is for her daughter, and how desperate she is for the gentleman caller’s visit to have the desired effect of gaining Laura a husband and her own place in life. Tom is aware that this is not likely to happen as Laura is so withdrawn:
She’s terribly shy and lives in a world of her own and those things make her seem a little peculiar outside the house.(scene 5)
Amanda refuses to face up to the fact of Laura’s ‘peculiarity’; but, in the event, it is not Laura who sabotages her chances of being married to Jim. Jim simply turns out to be unavailable. In this way, his much-anticipated visit turns out to be a disaster.
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