Parallels of Tennessee Williams' Life and The Glass Menagerie In the play "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams, there are many similarities between the character's lives and the lives of the author and his family. The characters include the members of the Wingfield family - Tom, his mother Amanda, his sister Laura, and Tom and Laura's father, represented by a portrait. Also included is the character Jim O'Connor, the gentleman caller. The character of Tom Wingfield is nearly autobiographical of Tennessee Williams himself. One of the first similarities noticeable is the use of the name Tom as the central character and narrator. The author's real first name is Thomas; Tennessee was a nickname given to him during his days in college.
Also, although it isn't clearly stated, the character Tom seems to be homosexual, and Williams is known to have been a homosexual. There are many other similarities between the character of Tom and the author. In the play, Tom is unhappily working in a warehouse shoe factory, toiling day in and day out in a job he despises. Williams was also miserable in his employment as a shoe factory worker. Tom, like Williams, spent much of his time writing poetry to escape the depressing reality of his life. Tom feels guilty about wanting to leave his sister and mother to pursue his dreams; likewise, Williams endured a lifetime of depression and guilt over his sister Rose's mental state and his choice to leave her.
The character of Amanda Wingfield is very similar to Edwina Williams, the author's mother. Amanda, an overbearing mother who cannot let go of her youth in the Mississippi Delta and her 'seventeen gentleman callers' is much like Williams' own mother, Edwina. Both Amanda and Edwina were insensitive to their children's feelings; in their attempts to push their children towards a better future, they instead succeeded in only pushing them away. The character of Laura Wingfield is modeled after Rose Williams, the author's sister. Laura is painfully shy and a bit emotionally disturbed. She stresses over many things, including her mother and brother's strained relationship, and the knowledge that her mother is trying desperately to find a gentleman caller for her.
She retreats to her world of glass animals, where she doesn't have to deal with reality. Similarly, Williams's sister Rose was a shy, emotionally disturbed and mentally ill young woman. She did not live in a world of reality, either; she spent most of her life in mental hospitals. The smiling portrait of Tom and Laura's missing father represents Williams' own often-absent father, Cornelius Williams, who was a traveling shoe salesman. Though the character of the Wingfield father is seen only in the portrait, he has a daunting influence on the other character's lives, and is referred to often throughout the play. Likewise, Cornelius Williams and his abusive behavior was a colossal influence on his son's life.
Jim O'Connor seems to be a character that perhaps Williams wishes he could have been. Jim is well-loved and popular; Williams himself was not always so loved or popular, particularly among those who were against homosexuality. Throughout the play "The Glass Menagerie," Tennessee Williams displays the influences of his own personal life through the characters he has shaped. This is a deeply personal work of creativity and a classic, captivating story..