Negative Effects Of Single Parent In The Family On The Example Of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie

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Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie acts as a memory that shows a dysfunctional family that has a hard time dealing with life’s pressures. The father and husband, Mr. Wingfield, abandoned his wife Amanda and both children Laura and Tom. This impacted them and created a deep fear in them. Children need both of their parents love and affection in order to become stable individuals. Growing up with only one parent can affect then negatively and can put the child under a lot of pressure. Not all children have the luxury to grow up with both loving parents. Some are born into dysfunctional families or their families can turn dysfunctional. The absence of Mr. Wingfield is the reason for the dysfunction of the Wingfield household. It caused financial problems, Amanda’s controlling behavior over Laura and Tom developing his father’s behavior.

The Wingfield family started to struggle financially after Mr. Wingfield abandoned them. Amanda send Laura to business school to help their financial situation but she dropped out due to her shyness. Now Amanda started to wonder what would become of the family. For instance, “what are we going to do, what is going to become of us, what is our future?” (line 34). The family has been struggling and Laura going into business school would help them with their financial problem. She would become something and earn her own income for the family but because she was too shy to attend school, she didn’t accomplish to help her family. Tom’s low income did not help the family either, so Laura had to sell magazine but it wasn’t enough for the Wingfield family. Amanda knew that if they didn’t do something about their financial problems, their future would suffer. Mr. Wingfield leaving was the cause for the family’s financial struggles because when he left he also took the income that was helping the family. They were comfortable but then they were left with nothing.

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After Mr. Wingfield left the family, Amanda, his wife, became really controlling of Laura’s life. Amanda send her daughter to business school to get a career but it didn’t work out. Laura ended up leaving school because she was too nervous to cope with the typing course she was taking there. However, she has been lying to her mother saying that she was attending the class. Amanda found out only because she wanted to know how her daughter was doing in the class. She visited the school to ask how she was doing and found out that Laura had dropped out weeks earlier. Laura teacher described her as being a very shy girl. Now Amanda had other plans for her. “After the fiasco at Rubicam’s Business college, the idea of getting a gentleman caller for Laura began to play a more important part in Mother’s calculations. It became an obsession” (Scene 3 line 1). Because Laura was a very shy person, she stopped showing up at school. She also proved to her mother that she is unlikely to ever make her own living due to her not having a skill or talent. Amanda, her mother, knew that she needed to find a “gentleman caller” to become a perfect husband for Laura. She did this because to her it was the only other chance that Laura would make money for the family. Amanda had to find Laura a husband and help the family become financially stable. To Amanda, Laura was the only way out from their financial struggles. Amanda started to control Laura’s life after Mr. Wingfield left because he left them with no money and Amanda saw Laura as a solution. Also, she compares herself to Laura to emphasise her glamour of her own youth and hoping that she follows her steps. However, one of Laura big challenges of her shyness. Due to her shyness she doesn't feel comfortable meeting people who she doesn't know. It gives her a lot of anxiety but her mother's insistence. This just created a very controlling behavior. She cannot Amanda became obsessed with controlling Laura’s love life but she did it for the sake of the family’s financial future.

Tom started to show some alarming behavior that Mr. Wingfield had shown before he left his family and his mother started to take notice. For instance, “More and more you remind me of your father! He was out all hours without explanation!” (Scene 3 line 35). Mr.Wingfield was out most of the time and gave no explanation to his family. Mr. Wingfield gave up his job with a telephone company and left his household for failing in love with distance. Now Tom has started to develop the same behavior as his father before he left. Amanda started to take notice how Tom would do the same thing his father did. This created a fear in Amanda. She feared that Tom would also leave them just like his father. Now they would struggle even more. The family would not have Tom’s income so they would struggle even more financially. Although, Amanda would also put a lot of pressure and responsibility on Tom. Amanda was over controlling and seem to want everything perfect. Of course, Tom would become very frustrated with Amanda telling him what he can and cannot do. Amanda would always compare Tom with his father Mr. Wingfield. Tom felt trapped knowing the fact that he was destined to follow his father steps with the way his mother Amanda would be towards him. Mr. Wingfield created a dysfunctional family when he left and now Tom would follow his same footsteps and leave his family. Soon after he started acting like his father, Tom decided to leave his family. This is shown when Tom says: “Blow out your candles, Laura - and so good-bye” (Scene 7 line 762). Tom is asking his sister to forgive him and to forget him. He wants Laura to forgive him for setting her up with a gentleman caller named Jim O'Connor who already had a fiance. Laura had open up to him having romantic feelings just so she can find out that he has a significant other. He needs Laura to forgive him so he can live at peace. However, Tom feels bad for leaving his sister, especially after everything he caused and since what was taken notice of the obsessive behavior of his mother. He finally decides to leave his mother and sister just like his father did. Tom’s only way out from his dysfunctional family is to leave. His mother has always feared that Tom would do the same thing his father did. The Wingfield household would continue to be dysfunctional and struggle financially.

The Wingfield household became a dysfunctional household when Mr. Wingfield left his family. When he left, it created many financial problems for the family. Amanda, his wife, tried so hard to work out their financial problems but never figured it out. She started to control her daughters life. First she sent her to business school, but it didn’t work out so she tried to find her a “Gentleman caller” to help their financial struggles. Tom later began to develop the same behavior that his father showed before he left his family. Finally Tom decided to leave. Mr. Wingfield created a dysfunctional after he left because his family struggled. They struggled financially and that was the cause of a lot of their problems. Amanda became obsess in controlling Laura’s life because she was the way out from their financial struggles. As well as Tom life for not earning enough income and for reminding Amanda how he’s much similar ti. Mr. Wingfield income was the source of the family’s income so when he left, he left them struggling. Throughout the play, it shows how having only one parent can be difficult to the children. Laura was extremely shy and crippled that it was difficult for her to do anything. Even her mother trying to find her a “gentleman caller” helped. Tom just decided to follow his father’s footstep and leave because that was what his father did.

Works Cited

  1. Tennessee, Williams, “The Glass Menagerie”. Literature: Craft and Voice. 2nd ed. Nicholas Delbanco, Alan Cheuse. McGraw-Hill Education, 2012. 14
  2. Delbanco, Nicholas, and Alan Cheuse. Literature: Craft and Voice. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print.
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Negative Effects Of Single Parent In The Family On The Example Of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. (2021, August 26). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from
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