In the play The Glass Menagerie the character of Amanda Wingfield is characterized by her unstable demeanor, which is a consequence of being the head of household of a family where the two adult children still live at home and present very little prospects of a better, independent life.
Although Amanda does her best to help her children, the fact is that they are old enough to help themselves if only their social crutches would not render them so feeble. In Tom's case, his main problem is not having found the nerve to become independent, and allowing his family of feeble women to get the best of of him. In his sister Laura's case, it is a slight physical deformity combined with a terrorizing fear of socialization that keeps her stuck inside her house.
As a result, Amanda has no other choice but show with her words the manner in which all these dynamics affect her. On one hand, she wants to express her love and devotion to her children but, on the other hand, she is clearly frustrated at the way in which they carry on. A good example of Amanda's expression occurs at the beginning of the play, after Amanda discovers that Laura had not just quit vocational school, but that she quit because of the anxiety that it caused her. Moreover, this action is directly hurtful since not only Amanda had paid for those courses, but having graduated Laura could have found a job and make a life for herself.
Amanda tries her best to express herself to her daughter, as far as her frustration goes, but she cannot help but using her words as weapons.
I've seen .. barely tolerated spinsters living upon the grudging patronage of sister's husband or brother's wife ! - stuck away in some little mousetrap of a room - Is that the future that we've mapped out for ourselves? I swear it's the only alternative I can think of !...Of course - some girls do marry!
She has the same behavior toward Tom, whom she nags and begs to find himself a better job. However, she has the same effect on both, which is that nothing ever changes. Nor will it change, as far as Amanda and Laura goes.