Symbolic illustration of Laura's hands holding a glass unicorn

The Glass Menagerie

by Tennessee Williams

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Analyze the concepts of strengths and weaknesses in The Glass Menagerie

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The concepts of strength and weakness inThe Glass Menagerietreated under the scope of how each of the characters' strengths seem to be limited by circumstances. As a result, they appear weakened and even vulnerable. However, the end willl show that the ultimate choice to change, or remain the same, remains within each character.

If we start with Tom, we see that he does have the inner will to make changes for himself. However, the setting ofThe Glass Menagerietakes place in the 1930's where the Great Depression was hitting the very psyche of the American heart. Tom may very well represent every American who, like him, feels confined and helpless at this point. However, Tom finds his strength in things that nobody expects: writing poetry, reading Shakespeare, and getting his inspiration from movies (and alcohol, at times). Hence, Tom's strength are his talent for the arts, his obvious loyalty to his female family members, and his ability to stick to a job, even when he does not like it. His weakness is his incapability of making the choice to remove himself from his current circumstances. He does it at the end, showing his enormous strength of choice,  but his heart still remains right where he was.

Amanda Wingfield's strengths are her dedication to her children, her intentions to prevail above the surface in a suffocating economy, and her tolerance for the reality of her children's weaknesses. When she realizes that Laura had dropped off typing school she feels the loss deeper than Laura, herself.

Fifty dollars' tuition, all of our plans - my hopes and ambition for you - just gone up the spout, just gone up the spout like that.

She is a clear witness to it all, and she puts up with it even after having been abandoned by her husband. However, she does have huge weakness to holding on to the past and not moving past a specific period during her youth. For this reason, she looks out of place and almost foolish in the eyes of others.

Laura's strengths are quite surprising during Jim's visit. Contrary to what we first think, she actually engages in conversation and even drops a hint of charm! It is strong enough to cause Jim to look at her with a flirtatious eye!

JIM: Unicorns, aren't they extinct in the modern world?

LAURA: I know !

JIM: Poor little fellow, he must feel sort of lonesome.

LAURA [smiling]: Well, if he does he doesn't complain about it. He stays on a shelf with some horses that don't have horns and all of them seem to get along nicely together.

JIM: How do you know?

LAURA [Iightly]: I haven't heard any arguments among them!

Her weakness, however, is her very low self-esteem, which makes her think of herself less than anybody else and which has given her such a complex that it has crippled her more than the slight limp with which she walks, which she says it actually "clunks". Even Jim said that he never heard any clunking.

Finally, Jim has many strengths such as a capability to be a high achiever, good looks, and high self esteem. However, he seems like the type of man that sets goals that are too high. This is why, even though he is a hero in high school, he does not make much of himself as an adult. He also downplays Laura's condition as if he were seeing life with "rose colored glasses". His weakness may very well be over-confidence which, in the end, has made him into an underachiever.


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