How might feminism or the lack of it affect the protagonists in The Glass Menagerie?  

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I'm with #3.  Amanda and Laura have few alternatives in this world in which they're living.  It's true that Amanda is a southern belle who comes from a world in which women are utterly dependent on men; however, she is a working woman and a single mother who is making things work the best she can.  The problem is that their options were so limited, and that's a direct result of a male-dominated, female-oppressed society they're in.  Amanda sells brassieres at a store and does phone solicitations for subscriptions to a romance serial.  Laura is supposedly attending secretarial school, one of only a few options open to career-minded women (which Laura clearly was not).   This is their story as much as Tom's, and it's a story with very few opportunities for them to be better.

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Feminism calls for the empowerment of women within society; it does not play a role in the play. Laura and Amanda are cast in traditional roles, and both lack the power to determine, direct, or control their own lives.

Amanda lives in poverty because her husband has deserted her. She attempts to help support her family by selling magazine subscriptions, but with little success. Nothing in Amanda's growing up or in her role as a wife and mother educated or prepared her to compete in the workplace. As a young woman, her role was to be desirable and to find a man to take care of her. After her husband leaves, that role falls to the only other man in the house, her son Tom. Because Amanda cannot support herself or her daughter, she lives in constant fear, primarily fear that Tom will leave them in a helpless and hopeless state.

With her emotional fragility, Laura is most powerless of all. Amanda, understanding how her own lack of education and skills has limited her life, sends Laura to business school so that Laura will not be as dependent as she has been; however, Laura cannot withstand the pressure of dealing with life outside the safety of their home. Consequently, Laura's only salvation becomes finding a "gentleman caller," Amanda's euphemism for finding another man to take care of Laura (and herself) so that Tom can be set free of his responsibilities.

Within the play, Amanda and Laura live and struggle during the Great Depression, and their place in society is not unusual or unconventional in that time. (American women did not leave their homes and go to work in great numbers until World War II, and then out of necessity.) Unfortunately, Amanda's and Laura's circumstances control their lives; they must depend upon men in order to survive.

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lewington | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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Feminism calls for the empowerment of women within society; it does not play a role in the play. Laura and Amanda are cast in traditional roles, and both lack the power to determine, direct, or control their own lives.

Amanda lives in poverty because her husband has deserted her. She attempts to help support her family by selling magazine subscriptions, but with little success. Nothing in Amanda's growing up or in her role as a wife and mother educated or prepared her to compete in the workplace. As a young woman, her role was to be desirable and to find a man to take care of her. After her husband leaves, that role falls to the only other man in the house, her son Tom. Because Amanda cannot support herself or her daughter, she lives in constant fear, primarily fear that Tom will leave them in a helpless and hopeless state.

With her emotional fragility, Laura is most powerless of all. Amanda, understanding how her own lack of education and skills has limited her life, sends Laura to business school so that Laura will not be as dependent as she has been; however, Laura cannot withstand the pressure of dealing with life outside the safety of their home. Consequently, Laura's only salvation becomes finding a "gentleman caller," Amanda's euphemism for finding another man to take care of Laura (and herself) so that Tom can be set free of his responsibilities.

Within the play, Amanda and Laura live and struggle during the Great Depression, and their place in society is not unusual or unconventional in that time. (American women did not leave their homes and go to work in great numbers until World War II, and then out of necessity.) Unfortunately, Amanda's and Laura's circumstances control their lives; they must depend upon men in order to survive.

Feminisn does play a role in this play due to its very absence. The powerlessness of the female protagonists Laura and Amanda, provides us with a  comparison with which to compare other female characters from other plays who do not suffer from the same consequences due to their dependence on a male-dominated society. By describing their powerlessness, the playwwright,  Williams has provided us with an illuminating example of what it was like for women who were unable to stand up for their own rights or rise above their oppressed circumstances.

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