Thursday, 14 July 2016

CHARACTER SKETCH OF AMANDA WINGFIELD - THE GLASS MENAGERIE BY TENNESSEE WILLIAMS


Character Sketch of Amanda Wingfield

Introduction
     If there is a signature character type that marks Tennessee Williams's dramatic work, it is undeniably that of the faded Southern belle. Amanda Wingfield is a clear representative of this type. She is the play's most extroverted and theatrical character, and one of modern American drama's most coveted female roles. She is an excellent example of a carefully crafted, complex character whose speech and action arise from the "psychological" being created by the playwright. Amanda, a deserted wife and the mother of Laura and Tom, is the protagonist of the play. She is a frustrated, unrealistic and strong woman who loves her missing husband, children and past very much. 
1. Amanda as a Frustrated Woman
     Amanda is obviously a frustrated woman. She resents the fact that the man she still loves abandoned her, leaving her to raise two small children. She romanticizes her past life as a Southern belle, often repeating an exaggerated story of having seventeen suitors at once. She has to live in the past, because her present life is miserable. Unskilled, she is not able to find a permanent job and depends upon her son Tom to support both Laura and her. She is frustrated with her lack of ambition and refusal to take college courses, and she cannot accept the fact that Laura is a strange cripple. She is frustrated because she is unable to live in her alternate world of illusions and is forced into the pressures of everyday life. 
2. Amanda as an Unrealistic Woman
     Throughout the play, Amanda shows that she is totally unrealistic. She refuses to accept the fact that Laura is different. She does not allow either of her children to refer to her as a cripple and tries to pretend that it is not so strange that her daughter spends all of her time with her glass menagerie. She foolishly believes that Jim O'Connor will immediately be taken with Laura and want to marry her, thus providing for the girl's future. At the same time, she makes Tom promise that he will never take after her ex-husband, and yet she nags him into deserting her, just like his father before him. This is the greatest irony of the play. It is not surprising that Amanda, in spite of her determination, is destined to meet with disappointment and failure. Her dreams and illusions defeat her in the end. 
3. Amanda as a Strong Woman
     Amanda possesses strong attributes. She does devote herself to her children. Despite being a deserted wife and unskilled individual, she does possess a great determination and strength. Many women could not have survived under the same situation. When she thinks a gentleman caller is coming for Laura, she sets herself to the task of preparation with a determination that cannot be equaled in her children. Even though her attempts to marry off Laura to Jim are a terrible failure and leave her desolate, she still manages to put a brave face on things. In short, Amanda is a strong human being even though her family life as well as her own in not much one would thank for. 
4. Amanda as a Loving Wife
     Amanda is an incurable romantic. She married an irresponsible man Mr. Wingfield. After the birth of Tom and Laura, Wingfield mercilessly deserted Amanda and his children. Sixteen years have passed; Amanda still loves her missing husband. She wears his bathrobe and often looks at the portrait of her husband. She often daydreams about her husband's charms. When Jim arrives as a suitor of her daughter, Amanda dresses in the same girlish frock as she wore on the day when she met her husband. In scene four during a conversation between Amanda and Tom, Amanda confides, "I've never told you but I -- loved your father....". This reveal is an attempt by William to show the audience a more gentle side of Amanda's character in the play. 
5. Amanda as a Loving Mother
     Amanda is actually a very loving mother. She exhibits an overwhelming desire to see her children succeed in life. In trying to push them toward her ideal of success, she at times unwittingly hurts them even though she means well. Her actions often hide her intense love for her children, but it is an important driving force in her motivations. She loves them too well -- at times to a point of smothering them -- which results her attempt to push them towards all the good things she has known and away from anything that does not suit her ideal. She does not think too much about herself. She subjects herself to the humiliating drudgery of subscription sales in order to enhance Laura's marriage prospects, without uttering so much as a word of complaint. In short, her mothering is extreme. 
6. Amanda as an Escapist
     Amanda clings fervently to memories of a vanished, genteel past rather than accepting her current circumstances of poverty and abandonment. When it is convenient to her, she simply closes her eyes to the brutal, realistic world. She uses various escape mechanisms in order to endure her present position in life. When life in this tenement world becomes unbearable, she recalls the days of her youth when she lived at the Blue Mountain and had seventeen gentlemen callers in one Sunday afternoon. She likewise indulges in playful games so as to escape the drudgery of everyday living. In short, Amanda is an escapist who does not live in the past; rather, she lives in her own version of the present that she sees through the veil of memories and illusions.
Conclusion
     Amanda is a person who lives alternately between a world of illusion and a world of reality. This fluctuation between these two worlds is her only defense against boredom and emptiness of living. As a "psychological" being, Amanda reflects the whole of mind, emotions, and body. She is a combination of the comic and the tragic as she attempts to hold her family together, In fact, there is much to admire in Amanda as much to love and pity as there is to laugh at. The safest conclusion to draw is that Amanda is not evil but is deeply flawed. These are her flaws which are centrally responsible for the tragedy, comedy, and theatrical flair her her character. 

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