Discuss psychoanalytic criticism in The Glass Menagerie.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the psychoanalytic criticism can be applied to the family dynamics that Williams gives.  On one hand, the family emotional dynamics presented reflect some deeply disturbing psychoanalytic issue.  The father abandoning the family is one scar that has not been fully addressed in the family.  To this end, Tom replicating those same behaviors becomes disturbing.  This might be why the ending of the play reflects that while Tom is out of the family, there is still a disenchantment present in his state of being in the world.  At the same time, Amanda is depicted as one who seeks to bring back that which has passed.  The idea of Amanda as one who can only find joy in the nostalgia of her past, reliving that which is no longer there, also gives us a portrait of a psychologically complex figure.  Interestingly enough, I think that a case can be made for the most psychologically sound figure to be Laura.  While she is perceived to be weak and frail, I think that a case can be made that she is the most centered character because she is not trying to be something she is not.  There is little disconnect between her conscious state of being and her subconscious.  In this, I think that the psychoanalytic portrait of the family is one where complexity is present due to the dynamics within it.

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The Glass Menagerie

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