Considering gender roles, how can The Glass Menagerie be compared and contrasted with A Streetcar Named Desire?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that you would want to focus on how women are depicted in both of Williams' work.  Amanda and Blanche might be a good starting point on how both women are depicted.  Both have some challenge in dealing with reality.  Amanda cannot fully understand the implications of her behavior on her son and, probably, her husband.  She has trouble being open and honest about her past and her own sense of self indulgence about it helps to create a distorted view of her self and of reality.  I would look for lines where this embellishment and this sense of self indulgence is present.  Where can we find delusion in Amanda?  What does this do to those around her and who have to live with her?  Blanche is living in a state of denial.  I think that you can examine recent posts in the group of "A Streetcar Named Desire" where myself and other editors have talked at length about Blanche's own challenges with reality, her own past, and her sense of self.  Additionally, you can compare how Amanda ends up impacting others as Blanche impacts others.  Both do a fairly good job of making life challenging, to say the least.  I would also examine their relationship with men in terms of whether or not there is a level of honest and forthrightness in these associations.  If you wanted to do so, I think you can also examine how women, as a group, are seen by Williams as complex in a world that might not fully acknowledge complexity.  The response to this divergence of narrative is to dismiss or "send" them away.  Examine how Blanche is "dealt with" by Stanley's manipulation of Stella and then how Laura is dealt with by her family.  In the end, perhaps Williams is making a case that in a normative society that is driven by consensus, the different experiences and narratives that many women possess might not be immediately validated and authenticated.

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The Glass Menagerie

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