http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3TrLczE9Oo Could someone help me find a scene in the beginning, middle and end of the movie The Glass Menagerie where one of the characters, either Amanda, Laura,...

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The three examples I have picked involve Amanda, Tom, and Jim respectively. Note: this movie adaptation follows the original play very closely and I will give the scenes from the play in which these examples occur.

The first example is from the family dinner-time scene at the start (scene 1 in the play) where Amanda is reminiscing about her gilded youth in Blue Mountain when she was a Southern Belle, living the gracious life of an aristocrat with lots of servants and, even more, no end of ‘gentleman callers’. She remembers one time in particular when no fewer than seventeen callers came on a Sunday afternoon. In fact she is continually remembering her past, she clings to the memory of those past days, because her present life is so different. She has been abandoned by her husband – who as a young man swept her completely off her feet with his charm,  but who turned out to be a drinker and wastrel. She has been left living in a rundown apartment with very little money, with a pathologically shy daughter and a son whom she depends on as a breadwinner but whose extreme frustration with his life will cause him to leave the family even as his father did. Her present situation then is a far cry from the old days of social success, wealth and youth, but she takes refuge in the memory of her past. Her continual remembrances underline the fact that she really has come down in the world but it also shows that she has not lost the ideals of her youth. In fact the memories of her past are so important to her that she tries to re-create that world for her daughter Laura, continually harping on about gentleman callers for her, much to Laura’s embarrassment who does not want or expect any gentleman callers. When a gentleman caller is finally found for Laura, Amanda once more recalls her youth by dressing up in her old frock for the occasion.

The second example is when Tom comes home from the cinema very late, and somewhat drunk following his tremendous row with Amanda (scene 4 in the play). He recalls a magic show that took place during the evening entertainment, and he shows Laura the magician’s scarf which apparently has the ability to transform things. He also recalls how the magician got out of a box ‘without removing one nail’ and says bitterly that is a trick ‘that would be handy for me: get me out of this two-by-four situation’. This recollection emphasizes Tom’s dreamy side and his tendency to indulge in fantasy, wishful thinking; in a word, his escapism. His remark about the coffin trick is the most revealing because it shows just how trapped he feels in his own situation, his dead-end job for paltry pay, his inability to help his sister and the way he has to sacrifice his own dreams for his family. He ends up leaving the family home but it does not bring him any satisfaction, rather this ‘escape’ only increases his sense of guilt over abandoning his family, especially his sister.

The third example occurs in Jim’s long, tender scene alone with Laura (scene 7 in the play). Laura and Jim have begun recalling their high school days and Laura produces the old high-school year book, to Jim’s astonishment and delight. Jim looks back to his days as a high school hero rather wistfully, although encouraged by Laura’s admiration: ‘I was beleaguered by females in those days’.  We can detect a parallel with Amanda in this, although not as marked as in her case. Just as Amanda harks back to her youth, we see here that Jim also looks back fondly to his past, and that he isn’t as successful now as he was then.  In fact he’s working in the same warehouse as Tom at only a slightly higher level. But he still has dreams, one might say illusions of success. Like Amanda he has not given up, although his circumstances have dwindled. Of course he projects a very confident air overall, talking enthusiastically with Laura of his plans for the future, but his remembrance of his high school days shows us a rather more vulnerable side perhaps; it tells us he’s not quite as successful and fulfilled as he would like to appear.

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