Tennessee Williams – The Glass Menagerie Sample Essay

According to Tom, Jim is the most realistic character in the play and represents a world of reality that the rest of the characters are separated from. He is described as the long-awaited and anticipated presence that gives meaning to their lives (Williams 5). The introduction of Jim by Tom as a narrator carries significance, highlighting the ambiguity surrounding Jim’s character. To the Wingfield family, he symbolizes both the American Dream and a means to overcome their own limitations. However, given the circumstances of the early 20th century and subsequent events during Jim’s visit, his ability to fulfill these expectations becomes questionable. Nevertheless, as the play progresses, Jim manages to leave an impact on each member of the Wingfield family, though varying in degrees and durations.

This essay will explore the history and characteristics of the American Dream, as well as provide an overview of the play’s historical context. It will evaluate how Jim’s faith in progress and optimism influences Amanda, Laura, and Tom in their understanding of the American Dream and their perspectives on progress and technology.

Ultimately, the downfall of every character, including Jim, becomes unavoidable and illustrates that the gentleman caller’s arrival served as nothing more than a memento from a bygone ideal: a small flicker incapable of rekindling their joy.

The American Dream, the notion of upward mobility, is often considered the quintessential American ideology. This concept has its roots in the earliest American settlers and the Puritans’ emphasis on competition and material success. As the Westward Expansion and waves of immigration took place, the belief in America as the “land of opportunity” became firmly established. The American Constitution, with its inclusion of the Pursuit of Happiness, enshrined the right for individuals to excel in various domains such as sports, arts, and particularly business. This ideology also champions technological advancements, as exemplified by figures like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford who are viewed as paragons of individual success. Gender roles were also defined within this framework, with men expected to be the providers fulfilling America’s Manifest Destiny, while women held subordinate positions and admired their male partners’ achievements.

The play’s focus on the social background reveals that the myth has come to a halt. During the 1930s, the Great Depression caused many individuals to lose their Dreams. The aftermath of Black Tuesday in October 1929 brought about high rates of unemployment and low wages, coupled with a lack of social support. As a result, the American “Dream” turned into an American “Trauma” (Baier 29). Williams places his Wingfield family within the lower middle-class, which was severely impacted by the Depression as they were part of the “fundamentally enslaved section of American society” (3). This portrayal highlights their despair. On a larger scale, times were equally bleak: Tom mentioning Guernica in the introduction implies that dreams and hopes had to give way to an imminent second world war.

A crucial aspect of the American Ideology is its individualistic nature, which must be remembered despite its seemingly universal appeal. This individualism is rooted in personal expectations and inner hopes. In relation to the play, these differences between individuals provide the opportunity to examine each main character’s Dream separately.

Jim embodies the American Dream, as described by Tom. He was always in the spotlight, excelling in sports during high school. However, Tom hints that Jim’s success has come to a standstill. Despite pursuing radio engineering and public speaking, Jim still gravitates towards sports in the newspaper. His past achievements are only preserved in old magazines, and he ultimately shares a similar job with Tom, the gentleman caller.

Jim, who has lost his former greatness, confesses to Laura that his current life is not what he had dreamed of, stating, “I hoped…that I would be further…than I am now” (Williams 76). Despite this, he remains optimistic and still holds onto the flame of the American Dream. Jim is enamored with progress and technology, as he enthusiastically discusses the future of television and recounts his visit to the Chicago World’s Fair. He is also impressed by the Wrigley Building as a symbol of success and commerce. The gentleman caller’s worldview is straightforward and he openly promotes it in his conversation with Laura, declaring, “Knowledge – Zzzzzp! Money – Zzzzzp! – Power! That’s the cycle democracy is built on!” (Williams 82).

Jim believes that studying at night school is a suitable method for preparing himself for future success, despite the fact that the world of the 1930s is on the verge of losing all evidence of such success. According to Roger B. Stein, Jim’s optimism remains unshaken, even in the face of disappointment during the depression years (38). Gerald Weales also suggests that Jim is mistaken (103), pointing to his naiveté when Jim euphemistically claims that America’s future will be even better than the present time (Williams 72). Despite Jim’s hopeful outlook, the reality of the 1930s was far from wonderful, leading some individuals, such as Amanda Wingfield, to create their own fictitious realities rooted in the past.

Jim is forward-looking, but Amanda is stuck in the past. She clings to the traditional American Dream of being a Southern Belle, yearning for marriage to a wealthy husband and a blissful life. Unfortunately, her pursuit of this dream has been fruitless. Tom and Laura’s father abandoned their family many years ago. Amanda reminisces about her youth in Blue Mountain, where she received seventeen suitors in a single day. Regrettably, she failed to wed either the subsequent vice president or a highly affluent stockbroker, thereby forfeiting her chance at success.

Amanda has neglected the shift in values, as indicated by Williams’ early descriptions of the characters in his play: “A little woman . . . clinging frantically to another time and place” (Williams xviii). Gradually, she becomes aware that the outside world compels her to take care of her children, prompting her to sell journals over the phone. As her aspirations crumble, she desperately attempts to impose her values on Tom and Laura, as seen in Amanda’s repeated phrase “Rise and shine!” (Williams 23), which resounds throughout the Wingfield apartment.

Jim’s presence reignites the desires Amanda once harbored. Introduced by Tom, she dares to hope that this caller could be the ambitious type (Williams 46). Laura, in turn, becomes a substitute for her mother’s missed opportunities during Jim’s visit. As the old-fashioned Southern Belle, Amanda yearns to control her children’s destiny. Laura’s passivity is evident in scene five when Amanda instructs her daughter to wish for “Happiness! Good fortune!” (Williams 49). Thus, Amanda sees the gentleman caller as a means to attain the financial aspect of her cherished dream, while Laura seeks true love.

Amanda and Laura both live in their own imaginary worlds, similar to each other. In Laura’s case, it is the world of the glass menagerie. The impact that Jim has on this world is significant but temporary. His initial comment about Tom’s sister is that meeting a shy girl is unusual nowadays. It is Laura’s obvious fragility and inferiority complex that piques Jim’s interest. She poses a challenge for him, allowing him to demonstrate and practice his social skills that he is studying at night school. He projects all of his hopes and views about the American Dream onto Laura, though somewhat thoughtlessly. Disregarding Laura’s emotions, he starts lecturing her about her lack of self-confidence, almost like a therapy session with a doctor. However, Jim is far from being a doctor. His confusion of “Pleurosis” with “Blue Roses” is significant because it reveals his lack of knowledge and his romanticized view of the world. In his optimistic world, the Dream can still come true, whereas in Laura’s isolated world of glass, shaped by her disability and feelings of inferiority, any Dreams have long been shattered.

However, Jim changes her world briefly by dancing with her and kissing her. The last scene shows the difference between Jim’s carefree attitude and Laura’s newfound hope: “While the incident may seem insignificant, it is the highlight of Laura’s secret life” (Williams 70). When Jim accidentally breaks the glass unicorn, Laura initially doesn’t seem to mind. She is too excited to realize that her imaginary world is also shattered. But when she learns that Jim is dating someone else, she immediately reverts back to her old ways: “. . . Laura’s expression changes, her eyes slowly shifting from him to the glass figure in her hand” (Williams 89). The gentleman caller’s attempt to bring the introverted girl into his optimistic Dream has failed, revealing his inability to be a true American hero.

Unfortunately, Tom is also not considered an American hero. The similarity between them is their dissatisfaction with their current lives as they both strive to achieve the American Dream, although Tom’s dream is different from Jim’s. Williams depicts Tom as someone who is not enthusiastic about progress and technology. Instead, his daydreams revolve around spirituality as he aspires to become a poet, much to the confusion of Jim who jokingly refers to him as “Shakespeare” (Williams 50). Overall, Jim’s focus on progress and money in his interpretation of the American Dream only widens the gap between him and Tom.

Jim remains optimistic, but Tom’s situation has become more serious: because he is responsible for his mother and sister, he cannot pursue his own dreams. He expresses his frustration by saying, “For sixty-five dollars a month I give up all that I dream of doing and being – ever!” (Williams 23). It is clear that he wants to escape from the constraints of his family. He spends entire nights at the movies, which Baier accurately describes as a form of substitute satisfaction (54). However, Tom gradually realizes that the movies are no longer enough for him. He desires to have his own adventures, similar to those of the movie characters, and longs to embark on his own personal Pursuit of Happiness. His frustration reaches its peak in scene six when he declares, “I’m tired of the movies and I am about to move!” (Williams 61). By rejecting the film projector, Tom consciously disconnects from another technological aspect of his life, just as he does when he chooses to neglect the light bill in order to pay his dues for the seamen union.

Despite Amanda instructing her son to go to the moon (Williams 96), he refuses to comply. The moon, which represents dreams and progress during the 1930s when it was still unexplored, does not serve as Tom’s destination. However, it is possible that Jim would have embraced the opportunity to go there.

In summary, I assert that Jim, who was initially seen as the savior, is unsuccessful in saving the Wingfield family. He is too deeply immersed in their flawed world and is unable to consistently impart his positive outlook to Amanda, Laura, or Tom. Although Amanda must come to terms with the fact that she is the faded belle, her daughter continues to be the one who has never blossomed (Boxill 71). Lastly, Tom has not achieved greatness as a poet and remains burdened by guilt for abandoning his sister Laura.

In summary, the characters in The Glass Menagerie serve as a representation of how society as a whole struggles to achieve their own American Dream. Considering the historical context of the Great Depression and the impending Second World War, genuine optimism was difficult to sustain. This raises the personal question of whether it is preferable to construct a delicate facade to maintain appearances or confront the harsh reality.

Works Cited
Baier, Jochen. The Long-Delayed but Always Expected Something: Der American Dream in den Dramen von Tennessee Williams. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, 2001.
Boxill, Roger. Tennessee Williams. London: Macmillan, 1987.

Stein, Roger B. (1977). “The Glass Menagerie Revisited: Catastrophe without Violence.” In: Tennessee Williams: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Stephen S. Stanton. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, pp. 36-44.

Weales, Gerald. (1998). “The Outsider in The Glass Menagerie.” In: Readings on The Glass Menagerie, edited by Thomas Siebold. San Diego: Greenhaven, pp. 101-07.

Williams, Tennessee. (1999). The Glass Menagerie. Introduction by Robert Bray. New York: New Directions.

Compare And Contrast Life Of Pi Book And Movie

LOP Compare and Contrast Essay

Introduction: Was Life of Pi a true story of a boy stuck out in sea for 7 months with a Bengal tiger, or all a lie that constantly toyed with our brains? This was a question that always kept readers of the book and viewers of the movie perplexed about which story was the accurate one and is what made it such a success. In the movie, Ang Lee directs the story with his own take on a vast variety of visual details. The book however has many contrasting ideas and themes with the movie. There are many similarities and differences in the book and movie, but some overall themes are Pi and his struggles, the supporting characters, and Pi’s relationship with animals being portrayed in both but sometimes differently. Similarities: The first similarity between the movie and the book is how Pi was portrayed in the book and movie. In both versions Pi is an intelligent young man who has a great love of God and all that is spiritual. Piscine Molitor Patel is a deeply religious person who intrigued not just by his Hindu teachings and practices, but by Christianity and Islam as well. Also during his shipwreck days he stayed very religious throughout both of the representations and constantly kept his faith in god throughout the ordeal while slowly losing his innocence when desperate times called.

Another similarity is that Pi’s mother, Gita Patel, is portrayed as a loving mother and protector of Pi. When Pi relates another version of his story to his rescuers, she takes the place of Orange Juice on the lifeboat which he describes her as, “She came floating on an island of bananas in a halo of light, as lovely as the Virgin Mary” (Martel 111). She symbolizes his protector from the vicious hyena or cook in both of the representations. Gita literally means in Hindi the sacred song of God, which plays along in the overall story of Pi’s love for God and the visions he sees in the movie of his mother which push him to fight for his survival.

The last similarity is Pi’s relation to the animal story and the human story of the lifeboat. Pi clearly retold what Martel had written exactly in the book for the movie because Ang Lee would not want to take out one of the most important features of this novel. The characters that were represented

by people stayed the same, the zebra was the Taiwanese sailor who broke their leg, the hyena as the cook who turned into a cannibal and brought out Pi’s inner Richard Parker, and Orange Juice was Pi’s mother who stood up to the hyena and represented the Virgin Mary. Though the stories were similar, the insurance men have a hard time believing his story with animals but concur it was the better story and leave us with the mind blowing statement of Pi ,”So it goes with God.” (Martell 317) which makes us truly ponder the essences of both stories. Differences: Adding on the similarities, there are also various differences shown between the text and film. The first difference is that the movie rarely showed much of the raw and grisly detail that went on and on in the text. After the shipwreck the hyena attacks and kills the injured zebra, and the novel vividly explains how the hyena eats the zebra alive from the inside out and eventually assaults and murders Orange Juice as well but only the attacks are shown in the film and none of the devouring or blood. The even stranger part with that is that the film does not show any bones from the dead animals in the lifeboat, and in it looks completely clean with barely any traces of blood or Richard Parker’s feces whatsoever.

Another difference that was left out of the film was about the two major supporting and conflicting characters, Satish Kumar. Mr. Kumar is Pi’s biology teacher at his school who is also an active Communist. He is Pi’s favorite teacher, and an atheist who sees the zoo as his temple. However, the other Mr. is a Muslim and a baker, with coincidentally the same name as the biology teacher. Satish the baker teaches Pi about Islam. His biology teacher influences him to study zoology in college while the baker helps lead Pi to study religion at college. The mentality of both Kumar’s are like a paradox; both believe in completely opposite ideas religiously, yet both believe strongly about their belief. This was how Pi was able to tolerate all religions and the people that follow them because he saw them from different viewpoints from the two. They were left out of the film, where Pi’s father took some traits from the atheist Satish Kumar and the Muslim Satish Kumar was never shown but in his place Ang Lee decided to put in a love interest for Pi.

The final difference between the two versions is the relationship between Pi and Richard Parker shown. In the film it shows that only after a few tries, Pi is able to gain as much territory as he likes on the lifeboat but Richard Parker continuously shows signs of aggression. The book, however, shows that Pi is knows a lot about animals from being raised practically in the zoo. He is very watchful around the adult Bengal tiger and knows the damage he can cause, but Pi gradually makes it clear that he is the alpha and Richard is the omega on the life boat. Pi is also more meticulous about his training and has Richard Parker doing tricks such as jumping through hoops near the end of the novel. Conclusion: All in all, the novel and the film were greatly told and visualized versions of the story which lead is through the seemingly impossible adventure of Piscine Molitor Patel and his companion Richard Parker. They both show the overall themes well but in different ways to tell the best story possible such as Pi and his struggles, the supporting characters, and Pi’s relationship with animals. But from the movie and book endings, which were slightly different because of the emotions, added from the movie, can lead everyone to their own conclusion about which one was real or not and shows us which kind of reality we would want to live in. The choice is what makes Life of Pi an interesting story to read and watch.

Electrochemical Cells Lab Report


The purpose of Part 1 of this laboratory is to construct a table listing the reduction potentials of a series of metal ions in order of ease of reduction. The series of half-cells is constructed by placing a piece of metal into a 1.0 M solution of its ions for each metal in the series. The metals are Cu, Fe, Pb, Mg, Ag, and Zn. The half-cells are connected by a salt bridge constructed of a strip of filter paper soaked in a solution of KNO3. The zinc half-cell is used as the reference standard and assigned an E of 0 volts, and all reduction potentials are measured with respect to the zinc electrode. In Part 2, the Nernst equations applied to the voltage measurement of a cell with nonstandard copper ion concentration. A solution of 0.0010 M Cu2 + is prepared, and the voltage of the cell:


Zn2+(1.0 M)

Cu2+ (0.0010 M)

Cu(s) is measured.

The measured voltage is compared to that calculated from the Nernst equation. In part 3, the solubility product constant of AgCl is determined from the Nernst equation and the voltage of a cell in which the zinc half-cell is connected to a solution containing Ag+ions in a 1.0 M solution of NaCl.


Electrochemical cell is produced when a redox reaction occurs. The resulting electron transfer between the reactions runs through an external wire the oxidation and reduction reactions are physically separated from each other, so they are called half-cell reactions A half-cell can be prepared with almost any metal in contact with a solution of its ions. Each elements own unique electron configuration means that each element has a different electrical potential, so different combinations of oxidation and reduction half-cells result different voltages for the completed electrochemical cell. The standard reduction potential is the voltage that a half-cell, under standard conditions (1 M, 1 atm, 25°C), develops when it is combined with the standard hydrogen electrode that is arbitrarily assigned a potential of zero volts. A positive E cell means that the reaction in that particular cell is spontaneous.

A standard reduction potential chart is arranged in order of decreasing standard reduction potential, showing the relative ease of reduction of each substance listed. In an electrochemical cell, the reaction listed in the standard reduction potential chart with the more positive voltage occurs as a reduction, and the reaction listed with the less positive voltage is rewritten reversed and occurs as an oxidation reaction. The cell voltage can be found by adding the voltages listed in the table, with the value of the voltage for the oxidation reaction being the negative of its reduction reaction voltage. Calculations of nonstandard potentials can be made using the Nernst equation: E=E í(RT/nF)ln(Q), where E is the measure cell potential, E is the standard cell potential, n is the number of moles of e- transferred which is shown by the redox reaction, R is the gas constant (8.314 J/mol ∙ K), T, is temperature in Kelvin, n is the number of moles of electrons transferred as shown by the redox reaction, finally, F is faradays constant, (9.64×104). At STP Nernst equation can be simplified down to E=E˚-(.0592/n)logQ.

The predicted potentials for this chart were derived from the voltages of the half cells. For example, when the redox reaction between Mg and Cu was balanced, the reduction potential and the oxidation potential of the ions were added.

Post-Lab Questions

  1. An electrode potential is created by comparing the potential of a metal, such as zinc in this lab, and potentials under standard conditions, as in published tables.
  2. Yes, the ranking was consistent between the reduction equations and the published chart of E values.
  3. The values found by using the zinc electrode should be higher than the values from the hydrogen electrode because the standard reduction potential of zinc is lower than that of hydrogen. Thus, when zinc becomes the standard, the voltages shift upward in response to the change.
  4. Answer
  5. A negative value for a standard potential indicates that oxidation occurs rather than reduction. For example, the electron potential using zinc as the standard of Mg was negative because when it reacted with Zn, Mg was the anode and Zn was the cathode.
  6. The change in concentration of the copper ions in part 2 affected the cell potential by making it lower. If the copper ions had not been diluted, the molarity would be 1.0. Log(1)=0, so the value of E would be .89V instead of .80V. Le Chatlier’s principle would predict that because the concentration of Cu2+ ions would be greater, the reaction would shift to the reactants side, yielding more zinc.
  7. The solubility product of AgCl was determined by the equation: There is no percent error in for the report. The Nernst equation was the most used equation in this experiment. In the experiment multiple cells were created, and hooked up to a volt meter to find the charge.