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This is an argumentative essay that seeks to criticize the writer’s effectiveness in depicting reality, describe the writer’s effectiveness in demonstrating generation gap in a piece of art, and draw a relationship existing between two pieces of art: "For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls" and “The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. The first art is a dramatic play in which artistic tools and selected themes have been used to portray escapism from real life and the effects thereof. The writer paints a family setup with dysfunctional characters as his background. The second art uses these characters with a few changes to portray similar themes but in a more ironic and paradoxical style.
Tennessee Williams’s play “The Glass Menagerie” is a representation of an all seasoned art. Williams applies a variety of artistic tools, symbolism being the most predominant, to communicate with his audience. He depicts dysfunctional characters living in different worlds because of the generational gap between them. Though there are mild attempts to depict reality, Williams falls short of such expectations. He, however, manages to present his ideas in an ironic and comical manner charming the mind of his audience. The play is dramatic and closely correlates with Christopher Durang’s work "For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls". The most predominant themes in both arts are: imagination and reality, relationships, as well as disillusionment. Artistic tools applied include: symbolism, irony, and humor, among others. The writers use various characters to communicate all seasoned messages to their audience.
From the onset of the arts, a generational gap has existed, especially between the main characters. Characters seem to live in a world of their own all attempting to escape the present. Conflicts take the center stage and are principally the gist of the art. Events in the pieces of art revolve around escapism, and most decisions taken by the characters are informed by their inability to accept the present.
The playwright applies a variety of themes in his piece of art. All themes have one thing in common; they all show a sense of unrealism. To begin with, the writer introduces on stage (scene one) a dimly lit play one that is unrealistic, emotional, and imaginary. The first scene alone is enough to foreshadow events that would be dictated by memory rather than events. The theme of reality is contrasted with that of imagination. Throughout the play characters fail to accept the present with some preferring to live in the past and others in the future. The writer, for example, prefers to leave his family and desires to escape to freedom and live in a world, which he could only imagine. This theme of unreality is factious in itself and helps demonstrate the unrealistic approach of the writer. No human being would practically live in the future, completely withdran from the present and driven by the desire to bring the future into existence. This thematic approach is only imaginary and was not influenced by activities in his life.
The theme of relationships also helps advance the writer’s attempt to present realism in the art, although he barely succeeds in doing so. Williams paints a picture of an ideal family in the mind of the audience. He presents a single parent who was abandoned by her spouse and left to take care of her two children, Laura and Tom. To that extent, the writer successfully convicts us of a realistic family setting. With the introduction of pre-occupied memories of Amanda and insatiable desire of the writer to fulfill his dreams at the expense of reality, handicapped Laura, the play begins to lose a sense of reality. The audience is left wandering at the extent of selfish ambitions that would drive a normal man to abandon his family in its time of need.
The only character in the play portrayed with a sense of reality is Jim, the gentleman caller, whom Tom offers an invitation for dinner. The writer portrays him as a man with realistic dreams who appreciates that dreams are not always achieved. During his schooling days, it had been predicted that he would become immensely successful, and this was never meant to be. Unfortunately, the writer does not completely depict reality through him. Jim becomes sympathetic to Laura, and effect suggests unrealistically that her situation only needs more confidence.
The writer uses the behavior of characters and their identity to depict a generation gap. He paints to the audience a family setting with a mother, son, and daughter. The three main characters were intentionally chosen to effectively portray valid approaches of life for various generations. Laura and her mother are bent on different directions of life. Amanda attempts to reconstruct her family by enrolling her daughter in a class to study business with the hope of giving her a chance to win the love of a man. Laura, on the other hand, prefers to skip the classes and spends much of her time in the streets.
Another approach used is the thematic one .Conflicts in the play have been used to depict a generational gap. From the beginning of the play, Amanda and Tom are in a big conflict. In scene one, for example, Tom’s mother, Amanda, criticizes his eating habits. The two do not get along so well throughout the play. While Amanda lives in one world, Tom lives in another completely different from hers. Although the two have fantasies about several things, their fantasies are centered about conflicting ideas .While Tom imagines of how he could make his life better by escaping from the family, his mother, on the other hand, fancies of how she could get Laura a husband and save the remnants of the family.
A Comparison between "For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls" by Christopher Durang and “The Glass Menagerie reveals the two pieces of arts bare a close correlation with Christopher’s being a modified version of Williams’s art. The story by Christopher is presented as a paradox containing the ideas propagated by Williams. The two have the comical effect and are imaginary in nature with most characters living either in the past or in the future.
Christopher uses the characters earlier developed by Williams to advance his art. These characters were all adopted from the south. Characters presented in the two arts have dysfunctional roles.
In “The Glass Menagerie” by Williams a sympathetic audience is enhanced, while in Christopher’s work the audience does not identify with the feelings of Lawrence. Williams presents to the audience a handicapped girl, who suffers misunderstanding from her own mother, and a victim of her brother’s actions. Amanda in her own style strives to get Laura a man who would marry her and convinces her brother to join in the search. Laura is not amused, and, despite her protest, her mother insists that she does not differ from other people by any means. The events that follow leaves Laura devastated, especially after she learns that the only man she had ever admired was engaged. When Tom leaves her sister hurt, the reader is left sympathizing with Laura.
In his art, Christopher replaces Laura with a male character, Lawrence, whom he depicts in a fairly different manner. Lawrence’s character is irritating, and the audience does not identify with him. Jim is replaced by a character named Ginny making the two plots bare cross parallelism. Like Jim and Laura, Ginny and Lawrence had met earlier at school. Although Lawrence is disappointed towards the end after learning that Ginny was gay, the reader does not sympathize with his situation.
Unlike Williams, Christopher addresses himself to more sensitive issues like a gay society and emphatically employs gay characters to advance his story. The two pieces of art demonstrate the use of symbolism to develop arguments with Williams using the glass animals to symbolize Laura’s delicate life. The glass swizzle, in Christopher’s art, is symbolic of Lawrence’s lack of creativity
Williams fails to effectively depict reality in his art leaving the audience with an opportunity of questioning his authority as a narrator. The story by Christopher is presented as a paradox containing the ideas propagated by Williams. The two have the comical effect and are imaginary in nature with most characters living either in the past or in the future. Christopher’s story is a modernized version of William’s play ‘’ The Glass Menagerie". Williams art is more appealing to the audience Christopher’s story is however more ironical encouraging critical thinking and analysis by the audience. Characters presented in the two arts are equally dysfunctional presenting a unique similarity in the pieces of art .The two arts are wonderful works of critical minds that can be read individually ,but are more fascinating when read and analyzed together due to the rapport they form.