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One of the greatest plays I ever read in contemporary American Literature is the Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams. It is a short but really intense play with a lot of thematic psychological features such as escapism and the post-depression American Society. What personally touched me in the play are the depth of characters and the intensity which Williams give to them. In fact, I can very easily say that this is one of the rare plays in American Literature which really center the whole personality and feelings around characters through the use of outstanding symbolism.
The story is basically about the Wingfield family, which is made up of Amanda, the single mother and her two grown-up children, Tom and Laura. All three characters are given a great deal of depth of character and intensity by the author. Amada is someone who has been greatly disillusioned before and she now lives in the past and breathes through her un-likely hopes for the future. In order to escape his mother's eccentricity and constant nagging, Tom spends all his time either at work or at the movies. Laura, the daughter is full of complexes and insecurity due to a slight deformation in her leg. She therefore lives in her own little world with her collection of glass animals. How long will this family survive like that?
While it does sound like a dark, depressing tale, I can guarantee you that this is one of the best plays you will ever read. Tenesse William's book layout and play structure rise up to the expectations of contemporary play-writing. The book opens with a detailed list characters with a slight briefing about each one of them. He furthermore goes on to include the Production Notes, which I personally found very helpful, especially for the understanding of the play as a whole. The production notes include certain features such as The Screen Device, The Music and The Lighting. Straight after the notes, the first scene opens with a light introductory aspect. In fact, I particularly liked the slight introduction before the start of each scene- it helped in giving a more graphic illustration of the scenes and line flow.
The dialogue in The Glass Menagerie was absolutely sublime! The words are very, very illustrative and every line flowed smoothly with the themes. There are certain twists and turns to the plot, but other than that, it remains stagnant throughout. That is why I personally feel that the dialogue and wordings served to make this one of the greatest plays in American Literature.
The play is available on Amazon UK as from £0.01.
I would most certainly recommend this book to anyone. It is quite a short and easy read but contains some haunting lines which will captivate anyone!