Tom Wingfield – The Glass Menagerie

Monologue selection from Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie.

Tom Wingfield, Scene One
Age Range: 18+ Gender: M/F/Neutral

Tom: Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you the truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.
To begin with, I turn back time. I reserve it to that quaint period, the thirties, when the huge middle class of America was matriculating in a school for the blind. Their eyes had failed them, or they had failed their eyes, and so they were having their fingers pressed forcibly down on the fiery Braille alphabet of a dissolving economy.
In Spain there was revolution. Here there was only shouting and confusion.
In Spain there was Guernica. Here there were disturbances of labour, sometimes pretty violent, in otherwise peaceful cities such as Chicago, Cleveland, Saint Louis …
This is the social background of the play.


The play is memory.
Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental, it is not realistic.
In memory everything seems to happen to music. That explains the fiddle in the wings.
I am the narrator of the play, and also a character in it.
The other characters are my mother Amanda, my sister Laura, and a gentleman caller who appears in the final scenes.
He is the most realistic character in the play, bring an emissary from a world of reality that we were somehow set apart from.
But since I have a poet’s weakness for symbols, I am using this character also as a symbol; he is the long-delayed but always expected something that we live for.
There is a fifth character in the play who doesn’t appear except in this larger-than-life-size photograph over the mantel.
This is our father who left us a long time ago.
He was a telephone man who fell in love with long distance; he gave up his job with the telephone company and skipped the light fantastic out of town …
The last we heard of him was a picture postcard from Mazatlan, on the Pacific coast of Mexico, containing a message of two words –
‘Hello – Good bye!’ and no address.
I think the rest of the play will explain itself …


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