Paper Topics for Williams
Choose one of the following and compose an essay in MLA format of no fewer than 1500 words.

  1. Discuss the play’s presentation (and subversion) of traditional family and gender roles. How does the assumption and subsequent disruption of those roles define and control Laura’s destiny? How does having a brother for a father and a sister for a mother determine the outcome of Laura’s seduction by Jim?


  1. Why does Williams’ reject conventional “realistic” stage drama? Analyze the stage directions and locate at least two echoes within the range of Tom’s dialogue and action. Are the lyrical and poetical qualities of the stage directions in (literary)/dramatic conflict with Tom’s desire to create a unified self, a “character” who characters, through writing poetry? Explain.


  1. Consider the use of names and the function of naming in the play. How do names advance and complicate the major arguments and themes in The Glass Menagerie. Remember that a title is a “name” as well, and that to be a caller, gentleman or otherwise, is to be a namer. Needless to say, you are obliged to name the major arguments and themes.


  1. Explore Williams’ concept of the stage as defined by the text of the play. How does our author manipulate the space and time of the stage? The first questions to wrestle with are: What is a stage? Where is the stage? When is the stage? Then: how does the playwright accomplish his redefinition of the conventional boundaries?  Be specific, analyzing selected text passages.

Be generous with quotations, and never paraphrase. Also, make absolutely sure you reproduce the text exactly as it appears in the original. When you change the words you change the meaning; when you change the meaning your argument fails. Likewise, it is always better to overquote than underquote. Analysis based on a brief, out of context phrase is much weaker than analysis of an entire paragraph or sentence. You are strongly encouraged to use the OED for this assignment, and to define words from the text of the play to help make your arguments. For example, if you wish to make connections between types and typewriting, as the play frequently does, it is important to know, and to tell your reader what a “character” is. It’s no accident that this word refers both to letters on a page and the fictional people those letters evoke.