In The Glass Menagerie Tennessee Williams writes of a 1940s household which consists of Laura, Amanda, and Tom Wingfield who display gender roles that underlie suspicions of dependence, manipulation, and subservience. The playwright demonstrates Tom as a subservient male who is unhappy with his life. Williams displays Amanda as a manipulative well-spoken Southern woman who cannot let go of her past. The writer expresses Laura as a dependant female with fragile emotions.
Laura Wingfield portrays a dependent female; whose crippled leg foreshadows the crippling of her emotions and her ability to communicate with people other than Tom and Amanda. Laura's damaged leg began to haunt her throughout high school. Amanda would tell Laura that she just had "a little defect hardly noticeable even" although Laura's brace would clump when she walked up the stairs in her music class. (Williams, 35) Students in the class would not notice the clumping, however to Laura "it sounded like thunder," this tore away her confidence in finding friends, making her very shy and unable to share a friendship with anyone for the exception of Tom and Amanda. (Williams, 93) At the end of the playwright toms friend Jim is invited over to eat dinner, when Laura realizes that Jim is a boy she also once knew in high school she becomes frightened to see him. Laura acts so frightened that she tells Amanda that she will "have to excuse her, she won"t come to the dinner table," when Jim arrives, and she begins to feel ill just from the presence of a stranger to her sheltered life. (Williams 73) .
Amanda Wingfield depicts the stereotypical Antebellum Southern female who acts manipulatively toward and tries to control her children Tom and Laura. .
Amanda recalls her past because she is lonely and upset that her husband left her, she uses this anger against her children to manipulate and control them (Williams 54). Amanda uses her Southern hospitality to manipulate her son Tom's decisions, and Tom dreams of joining the merchant marines "but not till there's someone to take your place," (Williams 35).