Presentation on theme: "Understanding Character & The Glass Menagerie"— Presentation transcript:
1 Understanding Character & The Glass Menagerie Week 3段馨君 副教授國立交通大學人文社會學系
2 Understanding Character Representing realityMimetic actionWho does what and to whom under specific circumstancesPlot reveals characterThe Glass Menagerie, the conflicts is between two generations in an inhospitable world
3 PortraitsCharacters are traditionally defined by their physical characteristics, speech and dressIn modern plays, a character’s appearance is usually described in stage directions that establish physical characteristics
4 Common HumanityAround the middle of the 18th century, changes in social and ethical considerations caused philosophers and writers to look upon human beings—a common humanity—with greater sympathy than had been true of their ancestors.The Origin of Species, DarwinThe Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud
5 Modern DissolutionDeclare that a long history of artistic achievement had come to an endHamletmachine, Heiner MüllerIn the mainstream of writing from the Greeks to moderns, dramatic character has been portrayed as a whole, recognizable persona.
7 Playwright-Tennessee Williams acclaimed as the new Eugene O’Neillpreeminent American playwright,adding at least five major plays to the modern repertoire
8 Introduction Written in 1944 Originally titled The Gentleman Caller Seven scenesComprised of the oppressed, the fragile, and the needfulAbout human desperation and courage a memory
9 The Glass Menagerieauthor · Tennessee Williams (born Thomas Lanier Williams III)type of work · Playgenre · Tragedy; family dramalanguage · Englishtime and place written · 1941–1943; a number of American cities, including New York, St. Louis, and Los Angelesdate of first publication · 1945publisher · Random Housenarrator · Tom Wingfield
10 The Glass Menageriepoint of view · Tom both narrates and participates in the play.The older Tom remembers his youth and then becomes a younger Tom who participates in the action as scenes from his youth play out.The point of view of the older Tom is reflective, and he warns us that his memory distorts the past.The younger Tom is impulsive and angry.The action sometimes consists of events that Tom does not witness; at these points, the play goes beyond simply describing events from Tom’s own memory.
11 The Glass Menagerie tone · Tragic; sarcastic; bleak tense · The play uses both the present and past tenses. The older Tom speaks in the past tense about his recollections, and the younger Tom takes part in a play that occurs in the present tense.setting (time) · Tom, from an indefinite point in the future, remembers the winter and spring of 1937.setting (place) · An apartment in St. Louisprotagonist · Tom Wingfield
12 The Glass Menageriemajor conflict · In their own ways, each of the Wingfields struggles against the hopelessness that threatens their lives.Tom’s fear of working in a dead-end job for decades drives him to work hard creating poetry, which he finds more fulfilling.Amanda’s disappointment at the fading of her glory motivates her attempts to make her daughter, Laura, more popular and social.Laura’s extreme fear of seeing Jim O’Connor reveals her underlying concern about her physical appearance and about her inability to integrate herself successfully into society.
13 The CharactersAmanda Wingfield, a woman abandoned by her husband some 15 years ago, trying to raise her children under harsh financial conditions.Her devotion to her children has made her, she admits at one point, a "witch," and she longs for the kind of Old South gentility and comforts which she remembers from her youth for her children.Once a Southern belle, she still clings to whatever powers vivacity and charm can muster.Laura Wingfield, Amanda's daughter. She is slightly crippled and has an extra-sensitive mental condition.Tom Wingfield, Amanda's son. He works in a warehouse but aspires to be a writer. He feels both obligated toward yet burdened by his family.
14 The CharactersJim O'Connor, a workmate of Tom's (a shipping clerk) and acquaintance of Laura's from high school,he is also the physical representation of all Laura's desires and all Amanda's desires for her daughter.He is invited over to the Wingfield's house for dinner with the intent of being Laura's first gentleman caller.He seems like a dream come true for the Wingfields.
15 Plotrising action · After Laura admits to leaving a business course that would have allowed her to get a job, (show the next slide for film clips)her mother, Amanda, decides that Laura must get married;Tom tells Amanda that he is going to bring Jim O’Connor to dinner;Amanda prepares extensively, hoping that Jim will become Laura’s suitor.
16 Film-DVD Director: Anthony Harvey Leading actor: Katharine Hepburn Year: 1973Showing Part: Laura’s mother asks Laura why she skipped classesFrom 08:20 to 18:00
17 Film-DVD Director: Anthony Harvey Leading actor: Katharine Hepburn Year: 1973Showing Part: Tom tells his mother that he invited a guest to homeFrom 44:20 to 52:08
18 Plotclimax · Each character’s struggle comes to a climax at different points.Tom’s decision not to pay the electric bill and to use the money instead to leave his family in search of adventure reveals his initial, decisive break from his family struggles.When Jim breaks the horn from Laura’s glass unicorn and announces that he is engaged, the possibility that he will help her overcome her self-doubt and shyness is also destroyed.When Amanda discovers that Jim is engaged, she loses her hope that Laura will attain the popularity and social standing that Amanda herself has lost.
19 Plotfalling action · Laura gives Jim the broken unicorn as a souvenir;Jim leaves the house to pick up his girlfriend;Amanda accuses Tom of not having revealed that Jim was engaged.Addressing the audience, Tom explains that not long after that incident he left his family but was never able to emotionally leave Laura behind—in his later travels, he frequentlyfelt a connection to her.
20 Plot overview The Glass Menagerie is a memory play, and its action is drawn from the memories of the narrator, Tom Wingfield.Tom is a character in the play, which is set in St. Louis in 1937.He is an aspiring poet who toils in a shoe warehouse to support his mother, Amanda, and sister, Laura.Mr. Wingfield, Tom and Laura’s father, ran off years ago and, except for one postcard, has not been heard from since.
21 Plot overviewTom chafes under the banality and boredom of everyday life and spends much of his spare time watching movies in cheap cinemas at all hours of the night.Amanda is obsessed with finding a suitor for Laura, who spends most of her time with her collection of little glass animals.Tom eventually brings a nice boy named Jim home for dinner at the insistence of his mother, who hopes Jim will be the long-awaited suitor for Laura.Laura realizes that Jim is the man she loved in high school and has thought of ever since.
22 Film-DVD Director: Anthony Harvey Leading actor: Katharine Hepburn Year: 1973Showing Part: Laura dresses upFrom 53:17 to 55:52
23 Plot overviewWhen Amanda learns that Jim was engaged she assumes Tom knew and lashes out at him:("That's right, now that you've had us make such fools of ourselves. The effort, the preparations, all the expense! The new floor lamp, the rug, the clothes for Laura! all for what? To entertain some other girl's fiancé! Go to the movies, go! Don't think about us, a mother deserted, an unmarried sister who's crippled and has no job! Don't let anything interfere with your selfish pleasure. Just go, go, go - to the movies !")
24 Plot overviewAt play's end, as Tom speaks, it becomes clear that Tom left home soon afterward and never returned.In Tom's final speech, as he watches his mother comforting Laura long ago, he bids farewell: "Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be! I reach for a cigarette, I cross the street, I run into the movies or a bar, I buy a drink, I speak to the nearest stranger - anything that can blow your candles out![LAURA bends over the candles.]- for nowadays the world is lit by lightning ! Blow out your candles, Laura - and so good-bye."Laura blows the candles out as the play ends.
25 Plot overviewAfter a long evening in which Jim and Laura are left alone by candlelight in the living room, waiting for electricity to be restored,Jim reveals that he is already engaged to be married, and he leaves.During their long scene together, Jim and Laura have shared a quiet dance,and he accidentally brushes against the glass menagerie, knocking the glass unicorn to the floor and breaking its horn off.("Now it's just like the other horses," Laura says).
26 Film-clips Director: L.S. Graye Leading actor: Shari Graye Year: 2010 Showing Part: Jim broke the glassesFrom 04:07 to 06:20
27 Scene one The Wingfield apartment Hive-like conglomerations SymptomaticFaces an alley and is entered by a fire escapeMemory and nonrealistic
28 Scene sevenThe new floor lamp with its shade of rose-colored silk gives a soft, becoming light to her face, bringing out the fragile, unearthly prettiness which usually escapes attention
29 ThemesThe subjects and themes of the play are weighty and somewhat timeless: failures of capitalism, failures of the family structure, failures of fathers (perhaps even God), broken promises, individual failure and reconciliation. The Glass Menagerie is about tough decisions people make for themselves that affect others and adversely themselves.
30 Motifs and Symbolsmotifs · Abandonment; the words and images on the screen; musicsymbols · Laura’s glass menagerie; the glass unicorn; “Blue Roses”; the fire escapeforeshadowing · Tom’s departure is foreshadowed by his frequent retreats to the fire escape and the image of a sailing vessel on the screen;the music from the Paradise Dance Hall across the street foreshadows Laura and Jim’s dancing;Jim’s breaking of the unicorn foreshadows his breaking of her heart.
31 Production Notes Presented with unusual freedom of convention ExpressionismPhotographic in art
32 Production Notes (Playwright’s) The Screen Device: There is only one important difference between the original and the acting version of the play--omission in the latter of the device that I tentatively included in my original script.The Music: a single recurring tune is usedThe Lighting: not realistic, dim
33 Critics’ NotebookA version of lonely human beings who are isolated from others and society, fail to make contact.Social irony emerges
34 ReferenceInterview with director Michael Bloom and scenes from The Glass Menagerie, at The Cleveland Play House Sept 12 - Oct 5, From Oasis Theater Ensemble's January 2008 production of The Glass Menagerie. Cast: Jim Hawkins, Joe Hawkins, Sarah Rudolph, Tanya Tranberg, Joe Pfelz.