Study Guide

The Glass Menagerie Gender

By Tennessee Williams

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In The Glass Menagerie, gender roles play a large part in dictating the future plans of each character. Laura must get married because she is a girl; Tom should take business classes because he is a man. Gender roles seem to arise from tradition, as Amanda discusses what women should do and what men should do according to her Southern upbringing. Gender roles also dictate values, or how women and men are judged differently. Amanda places great importance on Laura’s staying ‘fresh and pretty,’ while she believes that ‘character’ is the most important thing for a man.

Questions About Gender

  1. What’s Amanda's deal with gender roles? What with the husband having to support EVERYONE and the girl having to look pretty ALL THE TIME? Where is she getting this from, and what kind of effect does it have on her children?
  2. Do Tom and Laura reject or assimilate the gender roles projected on them?

Chew on This

Although they resist the roles prescribed to them, Laura and Tom both eventually assimilate to the gender stereotypes cast by their mother.

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