Spring Drama Paper Finally it’s Not On Demand
During the 1930s to the 1950s, the American public was dealing with separate periods of struggle and growth. During the Great Depression, America’s economy struggled, and many people suffered due to this, but when the ’50s hit WWII had brought the economy back and the majority of the public didn’t suffer anymore. Two plays written about this time period address these 2 different topics and use families that weren’t able to forget the past and make a new better life for themselves. “Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams and “The Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller use their main characters words and actions to show that they haven’t moved on and that their only way to do so is to admit their own faults. These two ideas expressed by these characters bring out the theme of for one to fully be new one must fully forget the past.
Tom from Glass Menagerie is a prime example of a character who can’t forget the past and has to admit his faults for him to move on to something new. The idea of him not letting go of the past is brought out very early when he says that “this play is a memory” (Williams 1155). By Tom telling the audience that this play is a memory shows that whatever happened in the memory has a lasting impact on his life and shows that he hasn’t moved on and the only way for him to do so is to admit a fault that he has not addressed in the play thus far. As the play continues, Tom’s family life is described along with their economic situation. This is brought out by Tom’s words towards his mother Amanda. The dialogue between these two characters is not pleasant, for instance when the family is sitting down for dinner Amanda is criticizing the way Tom eats and Tom responds by saying “ I haven’t enjoyed one bit of this dinner because of your constant directions on how to eat it” (1156). Even though this piece of evidence doesn’t show Tom admitting his faults to move on with his life, it is showing a reason for Tom’s final decision. As the play continues Tom and Amanda’s relationship continues to turn sour and Tom’s final decision is finally brought out. Tom’s final decision is brought out during a heated conversation between Tom and his mother. Tom is late for work but Amanda wants to tell him to find a gentleman caller for his sister Laura. During this conversation the Amanda tells how much Tom reminds her of his father, she backs this idea by saying he “left! Goodbye! And me with the bag to hold. I saw the letter you got from the Merchant Marine. I know what you are dreaming of” (1171).
Finally, Tom’s final intention is brought out. Amanda knows that Tom wants to leave just like his father did, and she also knows that if he leaves the family will shrivel up and die without his income. During this part of the play, Amanda thinks that Tom only dreams of joining the Merchant Marine, but doesn’t know that he has already set this plan into action. This vital piece of information comes when Tom and Jim are out on the balcony talking and Jim brings up that Tom has been slacking recently at work. Tom responds with that he is tired of going to the movies which lead him to say “I am tired of the movies and I am about to move!... Soon!.... I’m a member” (1185-1886). Through Tom’s words, the audience now knows before Amanda and Laura that Tom their only source of income is planning on leaving them and soon. Tom clearly doesn’t care about his family and wants to make his life better, he wants to “win” so to speak and doesn’t care that his family will suffer without him. This impatient and selfish attitude is Tom’s fatal flaw. And he doesn’t admit to it until the very end. Tom’s closing line is “Blow out your candles, Laura-and so goodbye” (1204). Tom’s final words are his admittance to his fault of leaving his family. By blowing out the candles the writer is symbolizing the end of Amanda’s and Laura’s life. For a while, Tom knows that his family is alive and suffering after he left, and clearly it is a burden on him or he would not have shared this memory. By saying that Laura and Amanda have died the burden is being lifted off of Tom and everything of his previous life is complete. The memory is over and done which allows him to finally be a new person and live a new life the way he wants to.
Tom is one case of someone who admitted faults, left his family for dead and got a new life for himself. Biff Loman from “Death of a Salesman” also admits his faults but in the end actually has made a better life for himself. Biff Loman is a bum who hasn’t amounted to anything after his high in high school, but he finally admits this to his father. Biff and Willy are arguing about Biff’s meeting earlier in the day, Biff admits to his father by saying “ This isn’t your fault; it’s me, I’m a bum” (Miller 1522). By coming clean and admitting his fault Biff is able to do what he wants to do which is head west and do a job that makes him happy. Biff is fulfilling the theme because by admitting his faults he cutting the ties of a past which had him fail in math, see his dad have an affair, and fail at business. With these things gone Biff is now able to focus solely on the future and what makes him happy.
Through the course of both of these plays, the main characters admit their faults which allows them to forget the past and look to their futures. Tom admits his fault with the last phrase of the play and Biff admits to his by coming clean to his father. Even though both characters do the same thing to forget their past, their result is completely different. Biff comes clean to his father and leaves his family in a decent state, meaning that by him leaving the family is not ruined they still have a house, a car, and can survive without him. Tom, on the other hand, is the only way his family could survive so by him leaving, he, in turn, is basically leaving his family to die. This fact brings up the idea of winning and losing. Both characters believe that they are winning by doing what makes them happy and coming clean, but in reality, Tom is on the losing end since to accomplish his dream he had to abandon and inadvertently kill his family. Which brings up the question of how far will someone go to follow their dream and achieve happiness?