Discuss:"The scene is memory and is therefore non-realistic". But "memory is seated predominantly in the heart". How does it relate to the characters?

lit24 | Student

In his "Production Notes" to the play "The Glass Menagerie" Tennessee Williams states that his play is a "memory play" and that it "can be presented with unusual freedom of convention." This is because, the entire play is actually a flashback of past events in the life of Tom the son of Amanda and the brother of Laura, who in the closing lines of the play remarks, "Oh Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be!"meaning that however much he tried to forget her after he had run away from home he couldn't. In fact, the entire play could be understood as an attempt by Tom to exorcise the unpleasant memories of his domineering mother and discontented domestic life in the Wingfield Apartments.

In the same "Production Notes" Tennessee Williams expresses his dissatisfaction with "the straight realistic play" and emphasizes "the unimportance of the photographic in art." He asserts that "expressionism and all other unconventional techniques" are more appropriate means of "attempting to find a closer approach, a more penetrating  and vivid expression of things as they are."

These remarks of Tennessee Williams help us to understand the importance of the stage directions at the beginning of Scene 1, :"the scene is memory .......dim and poetic." A person cannot remember every minute detail of his past. He can only remember what affected him deeply and intensely and that too only in a random manner. "The emotional value" that a person's memory attaches to the several incidents in his or her life determines how it will be remembered and for how long it will be remembered by that person. Tom hates his mother and so he is able to dramatise very vividly the scenes in which he quarrels with her. Similarly, his affection for Laura prevents him from being able to forget her completely. That is why Tennessee Williams says, "memory is seated predominantly in the heart."

Read the study guide:
The Glass Menagerie

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question