How does the the term "literary double" relate to The Glass Menagerie?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The term "literary double" has different meanings. In some works, a literary double refers to a character's unconscious self, as opposed to the character's conscious self that is revealed through his words and actions. Also, a literary double is sometimes called a "character double." Character doubles in literature are two separate characters who appear to be very different but are, in fact, reflections of each other. In The Glass Menagerie, Amanda Wingfield and Jim O'Connor could be interpreted as character doubles for these reasons:

  • Both are "large" personalities, talkative and effusive in their behavior.
  • Both dominate others through conversation, directing attention to themselves.
  • Both enjoyed their greatest successes in the past.
  • Both attempt to secure the future by making plans and taking action, even though their efforts are unlikely to succeed.
  • Both are self-absorbed, unaware of the effects of their words upon others.
  • Both can be charming in social situations.

It would seem that an aging Southern belle and an ambitious young man would have little in common, but Amanda and Jim in many ways are reflections of each other.



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The Glass Menagerie

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