How is sexuality performed in drama? How might this performance differ in a play as opposed to a novel? Examine how seduction is written into the plot of The Glass Menagerie.

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Performances in live theater can differ from written novels or screenplays in that the medium offers different types of cues for the audience to interpret. Directors and actors can choose to enhance or contrast the emotions of a character's words and or actions with audible and physical cues. In screenplays, there is no way to add how the character is feeling aside from punctuation and dialogue content. Novels have the luxury of adding inner thoughts to create empathy and explanations for a character. Theater is transformative in nature, while novels are introspective.

When it comes to conveying sexuality, theater is able to show much more in a short amount of time through visuals such as looks, touches and physical reactions. Fellow humans are able to recognize attraction between the two actors within the story based on the hard-wiring of non-verbal cues of evolutionary communication. They see how the characters feel and use that information to interpret what they think. In a novel, the author must describe how characters interact and what they think of one another to show attraction. In order to create sexual tension, this often requires a novelist to explain the inner thoughts of a character and the intention behind their actions. Written word allows the reader to know what the characters think, so they can recognize how the characters feel.

Seduction usually involves someone being attracted to someone else—the seduction is done to make one pursue a relationship, be it romantic or sexual. However, it can also mean to trick someone into doing something by making it seem attractive. In the play The Glass Menagerie, the key relationship that touches on both these ideas of "seduction" is the one between Jim and Laura. Jim rekindles Laura's feelings by complimenting both her appearance and personality. This makes Laura like Jim and think that he reciprocates her feelings. Jim then goes so far as to give Laura false hope that they could have a relationship by slow dancing and kissing her, the latter a clear signal of non-sisterly intent. He employs these seductive tactics when, in fact, he has no intention of pursuing a future with her. Whether he is telling the truth or not, his admission of being engaged shows his lack of sincerity.

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In a novel, the reader has access to the innermost thoughts of the characters, while in a drama, the characters must act out their tensions and sexuality. When Laura, a character in The Glass Menagerie, confronts her feelings about love and loss, she has to do so in an external way so that the audience understands what she is thinking. Her interactions with Jim are also compressed into the actions of a single night, in which Jim comes to dinner and winds up seducing and kissing Laura before admitting that he is engaged to be married. The actions in the play involving this seduction take place in a very short period of time, and Laura's reaction to Jim is very strong. She clearly will remain unattached at the end of the play, and her actions and reactions have a symbolic nature to them. In a novel, events can occur over a longer period of time and can be more subtle in nature.

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The experience of seeing a play performed as compared to reading a novel is summed up by the idea that reading text is usually visualized in the reader's mind; but drama bring that vision to life in a live performance. Reading a novel is usually a solitary experience, so we as readers have our own singular interpretation.

A play's performance allows an audience member to see another person's interpretation of the text. The director interprets the playwright's words, but the actors also give their interpretations of characters. Sexuality may be contextualized in the lines of a play on the page, but sex can also be conveyed in a stage performance with body language, physical gestures and facial expressions.

An intimate play like The Glass Menagerie (which only has four characters) owes much of its dramatic potential to individual performances; and how each character portrays sexuality is a part of that. The main example of seduction that occurs is in Jim O'Connor's decision to compliment Laura, to tell her she's pretty, to ask her to dance, and to kiss her. We learn she has liked him since their school days, and so his behavior has a deep impact on her. But Jim is not romantically interested in Laura and is in fact engaged to another girl. He seems to think he is "bringing her out of her shell" but in his efforts to awaken her romantic feelings, he insures she will remain alone and sad.

The performance of this crucial scene relies to some extent on the underlying potential for sexual contact between these characters, the ultimate expression of physical romantic intimacy. But it seems clear this will never happen; and so one strong theme of the play is unsatisfied sexual tension.

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