After being blown away by "A Streetcar Named Desire" I am glad that I stuck with finishing up this play though it no longer counts toward Dead Writers Society Literary Birthday Challenge for 2016.
I really enjoyed this play looking at what is left of the Wingfield family (Amanda, Tom, and Laura).
Amanda (the mother) reminds me a saner version of Blanche DuBois from "A Streetcar Named Desire". Amanda is caught up in her past of receiving gentleman callers prior to agreeing to marry Tom and Laura's father. She's still bitter because the man she ultimately chose to marry ended up just becoming a telephone salesman and runs off 16 years prior to the beginning of the play. It was shocking to me to realize that the missing Mr. Wingfield had been gone for the majority of the Tom and Laura's lives, and Amanda was left to make do with what she could while trying to raise her children.
Tom longs for the freedom to just write poetry and go on adventures. He feels trapped by his mother and sister and hates that he is expected to give up his life working in a warehouse to support them.
Laura is scared and afraid that when most people see her, they see the deformity in her leg. Choosing to concentrate on cleaning her glass collection and playing records left by her father, she's focused on not trying to upset her mother and keep her brother calm though she knows he wants to leave them.
Funnily enough the person I had the most sympathy for in this play was Amanda. At times I didn't like her character (when she told Laura that she would play a "Darkie" and serve and using the N word I was initially done with the character. However, reading further and seeing how she is doing everything possible to make sure that her children have a good life even if it means pushing them into things that they don't want was sad. Amanda being focused on gentleman callers and being upset that Laura is not attracting a man in order to support her at times seems so backwards. But in the time and place that the play takes place in what I guess to be the 1940s, there was not much that Laura could do since she had not done well in high school and dropped out of a secretarial course.
We have another character introduced late to the play, Jim O'Conner, or the gentleman caller. He is another character whose life has not ended up the way that he thought it would. However, unlike Tom, Laura, and I would also say Amanda, he is trying to do better because he sees a different life for himself. Watching the way that Jim was with Amanda and Laura was eye opening. Though Tom is ashamed and at times angry at Amanda, Jim finds himself charmed by her.
I loved the dialogue and stage directions in this play. The interactions between Amanda and Tom are always full of what the other person is not saying and even is saying at key moments. You get the full sense of Amanda's upset at what her life is now, prior to when she was besieged with gentlemen callers. Laura's dialogue until the end was very timid and afraid. When she finally does open up to Jim you can see what person she could have been if she wasn't so afraid of things all of the time.
The entire play takes place in the Wingfield family's home and I loved Williams stage directions for the home prior to the gentleman caller and afterwards. The apartment feels down right claustrophobic at times since you are not really able to get away from each other based on the set-up of the apartment.
The ending was bittersweet. Tom runs away to chase his adventures, but has seemed to realize that running away from home has only led him to be chased by the memory of his sister.