The Glass Menagerie Questions and Answers
by Tennessee Williams

The Glass Menagerie book cover
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Elaborate on the concept of the American dream in The Glass Menagerie.

The concept of the American Dream in The Glass Menagerie is presented as somewhat mythical and therefore unattainable. Amanda wants both her children to fulfill the American Dream, which is to work hard and become successful, but they're unable to do so, largely because the Dream has been imposed on them by their mother. Her dreams and theirs don't match up.

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The American Dream is a perfectly valid, commendable goal. Working hard and becoming successful is what most people, American or otherwise, want for themselves, and Amanda in The Glass Menagerie is no different. She wants both her children to be successful in life, in a way that she herself has never been. Just like those men who fail at sports and then try to live out what might have been by hothousing their kids to achieve sporting stardom, Amanda is effectively pushing her dreams on her children.

But this is a big mistake. Tom, for his part, is simply not cut out for the kind of life his mother envisages for him. He's much too artistic, too sensitive to make his living in the cut and thrust world of American capitalism. Instead, he wants to make it as a writer, which is much more in keeping with his talents and sensibilities.

As for Laura, it's utterly ridiculous to expect such a painfully shy, withdrawn young lady to achieve the American Dream when she won't even set foot outside of...

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