This classic American play centers around the Wingfields, a lower-middle-class family living in the Midwest. The mother, Amanda, is a former Southern belle who is desperate to prevent the family from sinking into poverty. The daughter, Laura, is a fragile young woman with a slight physical deformity that has made her morbidly self-conscious and shy. The son, Tom, works in a warehouse but dreams of being a poet and living a life of adventure. When a “gentleman caller” comes to dinner, Amanda pressures Laura to make a good impression on him, but the evening doesn’t go according to plan.
I haven’t had much prior experience of Tennessee Williams, but I quite liked this play and can see why it’s considered a classic. I was definitely invested in the story and felt particularly sympathetic toward Laura. Amanda, on the other hand, drove me crazy; she reminded me of Mrs. Bennet in her pushy eagerness for Laura to attract an eligible husband. And Tom was actually the least interesting character for me, because it seemed like he was nothing more than a spokesman for the author. Though he’s fairly artistic about it, Williams definitely uses this play to express his views on the flaws in his society. I would be interested in seeing the work performed, as there are a lot of very specific stage directions, but it also “reads” well. Overall, I’d say it’s worth reading, even if it’s not destined to become one of my favorite plays.