The Glass Menagerie - Wikipedia

Williams began writing plays in the 1930s, and his first play to receive a major production was (1940),which folded on the road. (1944), his next play was a major success, and the first of a series of successes. Later plays include: (1947), (1948), and (1955). Both and won the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics' Award, the two most prestigious awards given to any American play. After 1960, Williams increasingly met with failure, as he was accused by critics of merely repeating himself (he was fond of re-writing plays-Summer and Smoke became Eccentricities of a Nightingale; Battle of Angels became Orpheus Descending). His writing style is classified as modified realism.

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Describing characters' appearances and presenting messages upon the screen, the stage directions foreshadow and emphasize events. The description of Tom standing on the fire escape looking "like a voyager" (692) foreshadows his escape to the Merchant Marines. Also, the description of Laura as "a piece of translucent glass touched by light, given a momentary radiance, not actual, not lasting" (688) foreshadows Laura's brush with self-confidence that leaves as quickly as it comes. Finally, the screen images also foreshadow and emphasize events. For example the screen legend that says "Plans and Provisions" (681) foreshadows Amanda's plan to find her daughter a husband and emphasizes Amanda's sense of duty to protect her family. The screen legend that reads "Annunciation" foreshadows Tom's announcement that he has found a gentleman caller. It also emphasizes, through its biblical allusion, that the coming of the gentleman caller is a very special and long awaited event.

THE GLASS MENAGERIE by Tennessee Williams

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Some plays like Sophocles' do not require elaborate stage directions because the setting is not important to the play's structure. The lighting, music, costumes, props and movement of the actors are not necessary for the development of the play's characters or theme. In Tennessee Williams', however, stage directions are essential to the understanding of the play. Detailed stage directions intensify the unrealistic setting, foreshadow and emphasize events, and develop the characters.

Higher English – The Glass Menagerie | mrsgardner1

The stage directions in are as important to the theme of the play as the dialogue itself. Without the stage directions specifically describing the lighting, the costumes, the music, and the characters' actions, an entirely different message might be conveyed. Without the dim lighting and the music, the play might seem too real to be a memory. Without certain actions of Amanda and Laura, an audience might believe that Laura has come out of her shell for good or that Amanda is simply an overprotective mother who cannot face reality. Yet, with the elaborate stage directions, Tennessee Williams creates a distinctive memory play with each character tragically failing to reach his or her goals.