Symbolic illustration of Laura's hands holding a glass unicorn

The Glass Menagerie

by Tennessee Williams

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How does the past influence Amanda’s day-to-day life in The Glass Menagerie?

The past influences Amanda's day-to-day life in that it dictates how she relates to her children. She bullies them, demeans them, and pushes them around, because she believes that she can make them into the people she wants them to be.

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Amanda is so traumatized by her past that she forces her expectations on her children rather than understanding who they really are. She believes that if she spends enough time trying to get them to be whom she wants, they won't be the people that they actually are.

Amanda cloaks herself in her illusions. It was the only way she was able to cope with her husband abandoning her and her children. It's the only way she's able to ignore the fear that Laura will never find a husband or that Tom will also leave his family. She is scared that Laura has given up school, because she didn't have the temperament for it either—she sees Laura and Tom's successes or failures as her own.

Amanda's heritage leads her to believe that she can overcome anything by working hard and ignoring problems. This is why she bears down and decides to find Laura a husband—but also can't focus on looking at the true circumstances that they're in. She tells stories from her past to Tom and Laura to try to convince them that they need to find better paths. However, all she does is drive them farther away from her.

Ultimately, Amanda feels that she has to control everything and everyone around her. If she doesn't, her life will fall apart again. However, her pushy, bossy, and absurd behavior only puts a gulf between herself and those she loves.

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