Sublimating Animal Drives into Aesthetics

Most of the major characters in The Glass Menagerie direct their frustrations and failures into aesthetics. Laura was once familiar with Jim O'Connor when both of them used to read in the same school. At that time Jim O'Connor was highly popular. He used to sing tunefully. Some people used to take his autograph also.

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)

When Laura saw Jim O'Connor at the height of popularity she began to love him. But her love remained in its undeclared and unexpressed form. Her romantic impulses remained in its pent-up form because she saw no change of fulfilling her desire for her state of being physically handicapped with an inferior mentality she gradually detached herself from the external world of reality. Escaping from the world of reality, Laura entered into the world of fantasy. Once she located herself in the world of fantasy, she began to indulge in an aesthetic practice. She manufactured glass animal and kept those animals in the Menagerie. Revealing the truth that she is more alive in the real world, almost extinct in the world, she manufactured a unicorn. Laura's act of manufacturing glass objects exemplified the fact that she was sublimating her animal drives. Her creative act marks a moment of sublimation of animal drives.

Like Laura Tom did not lag behind in sublimating his animal drives. It is well-known that he was afflicted with disappointments and disillusionment. It is also true that his frustration knew no bound. His life was enmeshed in static. There was no horizontal growth in his life. No matter how long he patiently waited for a ground - breaking change in his life, he was condemned to remain static. To heave a sigh of relief within the atmosphere of confinement, Tom began to sublimate his frustrated will. He hankered after adventure. He became addicted to smoking and drinking. He frequented his visit to the movie hall. Tom's hankering for adventure and alcoholism is a kind of sublimation of his ego, sublimation of his repressed drives.

Like Tom, Jim O'Connor is also a seemingly practical character who was none the less seeking a trick of sublimating his frustrated ambition and crushed ego. Once Jim O'Connor was an extremely popular boy, a singer noted for his popularity. Due to his misfortune he gradually fell from the pedestal of his popularity. Now nobody cared for him, to deflect his frustration he began to get trained in electrodynamics and rhetoric. His interest in electrodynamics and rhetoric signifies that Jim was sublimating his drives of disillusionment.

In the same and similar way Amanda was also sublimating her painful feelings provoked by her being deserted by her husband. She was almost crushed by the burden of helping her son and daughter survive on their own. When Amanda's present became too critical to bear, her past was the only alternative to cling to. She remembered how in the past, many gentleman callers used to pay courtship to her. At one moment in her past, there was not sufficient chairs to sit them because of the arrival of a large number of gentlemen callers. Her nostalgia is a kind of escapism more to fulfill the void created by the absence of Amanda's husband. Amanda's frequent relapse into nostalgia is a kind of sublimation of her querulous animal drives.

The Glass Menagerie Study Center

Appearance versus Reality in The Glass Menagerie

Nature of illusion in The Glass Menagerie

Dramatic Technique in The Glass Menagerie

Tom as a Representative of the 20th Century Man

Laura as a Romantic Superwoman in The Glass Menagerie

Southern Womanhood in Modern World in The Glass Menagerie

Tom as a Man of Imagination in The Glass Menagerie

The Glass Menagerie Study Center

Introduction of The Glass Menagerie

Summary of The Glass Menagerie

Symbolism in The Glass Menagerie

Style of Williams in The Glass Menagerie

Biography of Tennessee Williams