The glass menagerie – Mother (Amanda Wingfield)
How is one to distinguish between a good and a bad mother? What characteristics sets apart a good mother from a bad one? Amanda’s actions in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams were made clear from the beginning. First, she was an extremely arrogant person. Especially when it came to her children, constantly putting them down and making them feel as if they were inferior and couldn’t do anything right. Secondly, she would make her childrens’ decisions for them, allowing them to decide little regarding their own future. Finally, by placing a large part of her responsibilities on Tom demonstrates to the reader that Amanda is irresponsible. Despite any views people may have on it being difficult to differentiate the actions of a bad mother from those of a good mother, it was made obvious that Amanda was a selfish mother, putting her needs ahead of her children’s. Amanda ultimately cared for herself more than her children.
Arrogant is one of Amanda’s strongest characteristics. She notices her children’s weaknesses rather than their strong points, demonstrating this quality. She would constantly downplay her children about what they had become. “Sounds to me like a fairly responsible job you would be in if you just had more get-up.” (Act 1, Scene V, pg. 54.) Amanda could never show any recognition for what her children had achieved. After Laura had dropped out of business school, Amanda was very pessimistic about her future, and was sure she would become an ” old maid.” Amanda did not even think of the possibility that Laura could be successful on her own, she failed to recognize that maybe both Laura and Tom would be happy and successful if they were only given the change to chose what they wanted to do for themselves, rather than their mother always making their decisions for them.
It would definitely be difficult, and likely hopeless if someone was not doing something by choice, but was always coerced into doing it. Amanda would be constantly upset by how her children would not stick to something and be happy and successful with it. It was unfortunate that she did not realize that if she would just let her children make their own choices, they would most likely attain happiness. After making Laura go to business college, which she didn’t want to do, she of course made it seem as if it was all Laura’s fault. “Fifty dollars’ tuition, all of our plans-my hopes and ambitions for you-just gone up the spout, just gone up the spout like that.” (Act 1, Scene II, pg.17.) Amanda needed to realize that it was Laura’s life, not hers, and stop making her decisions for her.
Tom was a man who liked excitement who wanted to see the world. However Amanda insisted on planning his future, and made him get a job at the warehouse which he despised. She should of instead, had faith in Tom and let him decide what he wanted to do and believe he would make the right choices. Instead, she mapped out Tom’s future for him, giving him little choice when she dumped most of her responsibilities of a mother on him.
Being a mother means that your supposed to care for and provide for your children both emotionally and physically. Amanda did neither of these well. She made Tom get a job and support Laura and herself. In addition to this Tom was also left with his mother’s responsibility of Laura. Tom was expected to take over Amanda’s role as a mother to Laura, and find her a husband and a life for herself. “I mean that as soon as Laura has got somebody to take care of her, married, a home of her own, independent-why, then you’ll be free to go where ever you please, on land, on sea, whichever way the wind blows you!” (Act 1, Scene IV, pg. 42.) Amanda expected him to give up his hopes and dreams, and spend his life trying to find a life for Laura. Which was most definitely completely irrational. Tom was a young man, and should have been able to live his life, rather than trying to make a life for his sister.
Although Amanda did have good intentions for her children, she went about everything in the wrong way, some would say that she just simply wanted the best for her children. Which was most likely true, but without doubt she in the end just wanted the best for herself. She did love her children yes, and to some this makes a mother a good mother. However loving someone is not always enough. To be a good mother you need to tend to your child’s every need, and believe in them 100%. Unfortunately Amanda possessed neither of these qualities.
Amanda was a like a young woman living in an older woman’s body. She was lost in her past and what she could have bee. She was an irresponsible mother who did not allow her children to make their own choices. She planed her responsibilities to Lara on Tom, leaving him with a large considerable amount of responsibilities that he did not ask for or what. Domineering is the best word to explain her. Tom and Laura were constantly being put down by their mother, and told to do things they did not want to do. To summerize, Amanda Wingfeild was an awful mother, always expecting too much. Never just accepting her children for who they were and loving them for being all that they could be.