How does the title character Antigone in Sophocles' play Antigone compare and contrast with Amanda Wingfield in Tennessee Williams's play The Glass Menagerie?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One similarity we can see between the title character Antigone in Sophocles' play Antigone and Amanda Wingfield, the mother, in Tennessee Williams's play The Glass Menagerie is their ability to be courageous in the face of adversity.

Antigone has just undergone many hardships and losses. She has just lost her mother to suicide and father, King Oedipus, to exile after Oedipus realized their marriage was incestuous. Then, she lost both of her brothers in battle against each other. Now, Creon has been so cruel as to decree that only her bother Eteocles, not Polynices, shall be given proper burial, a decree that actually breaks the laws of the gods. For this reason and for the sake of honoring a brother who was dear to her, Antigone decides to break Creon's decree in favor of honoring the law of the gods, as we see her explain to Ismene early in the play:

Be whatever you want, and I will bury him.
It seems fair to me to die doing it.
I will lie dear to him, with one dear to me,
a holy outlaw, since I must please those
below a longer time than people here,
for I shall lie there forever. (71-76)

Since Antigone is sacrificing her own life in order to honor her brother, we can see this as a clear example of Antigone's courage.

Similarly, Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie has undergone her own hardships. First, the play is set during the Great Depression, which was a very difficult time for nearly all. Second, her husband left her and her children to fend for themselves long before the play begins. As a result, she must work bravely to make sure her family is provided for and plan for Laura's provision. Sadly, since Amanda was raised as a Southern bell, she's hardly equipped to provide for a family. Her son Tom brings in most of the family's income, while Amanda earns what she can through working retail and selling subscriptions to a women's magazine called The Homemaker's Companion. She also enrolls Laura in a secretarial school, but Laura is too shy to attend, leaving Amanda feeling desperate to secure a comfortable future for Laura.

While Amanda does not sacrifice her life for what is right as Antigone does, she certainly endures a great deal of humiliation to meet the family's needs. A Southern bell is certainly not raised to be equipped with suffering the indignity of "working at Famous and Barr ... demonstrating those--." While we are never told exactly what she demonstrated, since we know Amanda has a beautiful figure, the reader can assume she was demonstrating women's foundation garments. Hence, just like Antigone, Amanda must also act with great courage.