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The Glass Menagerie Essay

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There is a long dark, narrow passageway behind the now aged building. A few abandoned recycling bins reminding us of modernity. There is a dead end at the end of the alley, nowhere to go but up. At the top of the second landing there are large shards of broken glass. The grass beneath is brown from neglect. There are no cars on the street, save for one at the top of the street, in front of another, newer building. It leaves one wondering how the narrator go to where he is. Night is falling and a navy/indigo glow is all around. The light that permeates the darkness is an amber/orange glow.

The partition between bedrooms is incomplete. A large, tall wall that only spans half the length of the room. A curtain would almost suffice and is therefore only symbolically draped on the line, in the back. This separating the outside world from the family. Symbolizing lax boundaries. There are panties on the line, those large enough to be a woman’s but with simple childlike designs.  Laura is wearing a pale yellow housedress. Her mother always wears severe colours of mourning the deepest purple, dark brown or black. She is from a different generation and reveling in it she pins cameo pins and has here hair swept up in a bun. She seems regal but without just cause, and she is a little out of place for the times. Her skirts are too long and the table is always set promptly at four for tea. Her best serving set in bone white for Laura’s beaux should he or they appear.

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The chair the mother sits in has an antique elongated, straight back, and the other two, although a matching pair, have half the back and hence formidable presence.

The wood is a dark cherry faded with age. Like in a dolls house, the glass menagerie sits behind glass, accessible only by very small, fingers. The casing is all glass and pewter, the menagerie itself glitters with gold.

“We see all around the evidence of many dreams. Dreams that were well worth living and dreams that we let die. A girl, handicapped by her mother’s desires, and  a son repressed by the same mother’s desire for control. If the walls could speak, they would reveal hidden memories of a battle of wills. Perhaps the walls would speak of a father that never was and a mother who could not be.”

“Many years have passed this way, with a want for a better way. Now I see the lights (narrator speaks to audience as the curtain raises on the past). Mother you persist in pestering me. I would like to eat in peace.” He speaks through a half full mouth and clenched teeth. “To add to that, your persistent ramblings are making me feel uneasy. Must every occasion for company be an excuse to relive a distant past?”

“You must be mistaken, I simply wish the two of you to become familiar with the finer things in life. I wish you to know fine people, albeit from my memories, at the very least.”

“Memories, mother, belong to the mind. That is where they should live and where they should die.”

“Laura don’t listen to him, I relive these memories and one day dear, you’ll have memories of your own to share. One day, mark my words, your grandbabies will gather around, at your feet, hearing you regale them with stories of your youth. Oh, Laurie, your life is just starting, those old memories will bless you for any eternity. Why, once your father came home with a new car and jawbreakers. Never saw it coming. He left us the very same way, as if on a dare. I’d swear you’d do the very same thing, if it weren’t for that lame foot of yours.”

“Mother, I don’t think I’ll ever have the life you did, I’m lame and well, I don’t even have pretty hair, not the way you do.  Mr Shelly, at the bakery still brings milk and bread for Sunday dinner, and you barely give him the time of day.”

“I’ll tell you what, don’t slouch so much, eat regular meals, in fact, I’m going to teach you how to cook-“

“I already know how to cook, Mother”

“Not like a proper Southern woman, no one cooks like a Southern Woman.

The end of scene is more orange yellow lighting than amber, as Laura’s optimism grows, so too does the yellow. As the narrator broods a spotlight of navy envelops him. The doorway to the house is very small suggesting not many people can be admitted, the mother’s standards are so exacting. She is so particular that her children must use the fire escape to gain entrance and there are few windows, giving the home an oppressive dark appearance. The mother’s bedroom is in deep purple and the daughters’ in varying earth tones, but prodominatntly dark brown.  The menagerie is pristine and suggest the only unspoiled thing in the room. Something no one is to touch, a sentiment later exhibited in the play by the mother’s dominance over her children pertaining to their coming and goings. Aside from being dark, the house is always immaculately maintained, in expectation of company. The pine wooden floors are polished to perfection and very neat needlework is nearly finished on a table in the hall. The contents of the apartment are admired and uncommon, but its finest piece is the glass menagerie.

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