The Glass Menagerie

The Absent Father in The Glass Menagerie

In the play ‘The Glass Menagerie’ the audience is presented with three obvious main characters. Each of these characters, Tom, Laura and Amanda, has strong claims to the title of protagonist, but what hangs over the play is the spectre of the Wingfields’ absent father. It could be argued that his departure was the catalyst for the events of the play, affecting both the financial security and physiological well being of all the family members.

The Wingfields’ father is mentioned at the beginning of the play, in Tom’s opening monologue. Tom describes their father and a little about his escape from the family. After describing him as “a telephone man who fell in love with long distances” (p14) and a mysterious postcard that he sent to the family saying “hello - goodbye” he states “I think the rest of the play will explain itself.” This indicates, right from the start, that the absence of the father has a great impact on the family. He is referred to in almost every scene, maintains a visual presence on stage at all times (in the form of the picture) and is mentioned once again in Tom’s closing monologue. Tom’s opening and closing comments frame the action of the play, underpinning his importance to the audience as a main...

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