Notes on The Glass Menagerie Themes

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The Glass Menagerie Topic Tracking: Expectation

Part 1, Scene 1

Expectation 1: The Wingfields have expectations and dreams of how life will turn out for them, and of how situations will unfold leading to the ultimate realization of their dreams or goals. Unfortunately, reality never meets their expectations, and this disappointment breeds unrest and dissatisfaction. Tom introduces the expectations that exist within his family almost as if they have become another character. So much of the Wingfield's lives are spent expecting more than their mundane lives provide.

Expectation 2: Tom introduces his father as another character, one who failed to fulfill his expectations as a father. Rather than supporting the family, he left to seek his own adventure. Amanda, because her husband left her, can only expect the lives of her children to be successful. Growing up without a father is not what a child expects, and Tom, as the son, must become the breadwinner.

Expectation 3: Amanda expects her children to have the same genteel manners she grew up with, to always behave formally and politely, even in their own home. She expects her children to live up to her only definition of success: what her life was like as a child at Blue Mountain. Tom doesn't care for being genteel, and he makes light of her memories of Blue Mountain, where she grew up in an upper class and proper household. Amanda expects more from her son, and her critiques are ceaseless.

Expectation 4: While Amanda expects Tom to believe like a Southern gentleman in all respects right down to table manners, she also expects Laura to be something she's not -- a Southern belle. She expects Laura to be as popular and outgoing with the gentlemen as Amanda was when she was younger. Unfortunately, Laura's handicap and her debilitating shyness prevent her from living up to the expectations Amanda has for her.

Part 1, Scene 2

Expectation 5: Amanda's expectations of Laura change when she comes to the conclusion that Laura isn't cut out for a career in business. She quickly jumps to another unlikely expectation that Laura must immediately be introduced to men, in hopes she will find one to marry. This becomes the only way to secure a stable future for her daughter. She expects that if they work hard enough, they can find someone to marry Laura.

Part 2, Scene 4

Expectation 6: Amanda tries to tell Tom about how much she loved his father and how she never expected him to abandon her with their children and disappear forever. She expects Tom to find a way to help her establish a stable future for Laura. At the same time, Tom tries to explain to Amanda that he dreams of more than just working in a warehouse. He craves more in life, and it's this craving that leads him to the movies every night. He knows that there is more out there, and he wants it, but right now he's settling for the story lines in films. This is his only exposure to what the world has to offer beyond the Wingfield apartment and the shoe warehouse.

Part 3, Scene 5

Expectation 7: Amanda expects that the gentleman caller Tom is bringing home will instantly fall in love with Laura, and want to marry her. In order for this to happen, Amanda has to make sure everything is perfect. The right curtains and slipcovers must be placed in the living room, and the meal must be nice enough. Her expectations of people and life is that everyone will bend to her will if she presents it in just the right, Southern tone.

Part 3, Scene 6

Expectation 8: Tom expects to escape without having to face any of the consequences of leaving. He expects to be gone before the lights are turned off, but he doesn't get away so easily.

Part 4, Scene 7

Expectation 9: Laura begins to expect that things will actually work out as her mother has planned, and that something will become of her and Jim. These hopes are quickly proved false, and Jim sees that he's done a horrible thing to raise her hopes. Laura hadn't expected much from the evening, but when Jim kissed her, things changed. Unfortunately, things do not work out the way she hoped.

Expectation 10: Tom believed when he left that he'd be able to escape without any repercussions. Like his father and Malvolio the Magician, he'd escaped from the coffin without removing a nail. The sister he left behind haunts him, and no matter how far away he is, or how long he's been gone, Laura's image remains.

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