Monday, April 19, 2010

Quips and Quotations

LAURA: Little articles of it [glass], they're ornaments mostly! Most of them are little animals made out of glass, the tiniest little animals in the world. Mother calls them a glass menagerie! Here's an example of one, if you'd like to see it! . . . Oh, be careful — if you breathe, it breaks! . . . Hold him over the light, he loves the light! You see how the light shines through him?
JIM: It sure does shine!
LAURA: I shouldn't be partial, but he is my favorite one.
JIM: What kind of a thing is this one supposed to be?
LAURA: Haven't you noticed the single horn on his forehead?
JIM: A unicorn, huh? — aren't they extinct in the modern world?
LAURA: I know!
JIM: Poor little fellow, he must feel sort of lonesome.

JIM: Aw, aw, aw. Is it broken?
LAURA: Now it is just like all the other horses.
JIM: It's lost its —
LAURA: Horn! It doesn't matter. . . . [smiling] I'll just imagine he had an operation. The horn was removed to make him feel less—freakish!

--Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie


  1. "Perhaps I am walking along a street at night, in some stange city, before I have found companions. I pass the lighted window of a shop where perfume is sold. The window is filled with pieces of colored glass, tiny transparent bottles in delicate colors, like bits of shattered rainbow." ~ ~ My favorite lines.

  2. "Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be!

    I reach for a cigarette, I cross the street, I run into the movies or a bar, I buy a drink, I speak to the nearest stranger--anything that can blow your candles out!

    --for nowadays the world is lit by lightning! Blow out your candles, Laura--and so good-bye. . . . "

  3. Are you telling me candles is plural?

  4. I have always depended greatly on the kindness---Wait, wrong play.

  5. Hey, that IS the wrong play!

    I wouldn't argue about candles being plural. I didn't trust myself to present that whole recital from memory. The "more faithful than I intended to be" part sticks with me, but I needed some support on the rest. What I Googled does show it plural. But I have no personal knowledge of what Tennessee Williams intended.

  6. If I remember correctly, in the play's final scene, the lights go out because the electric bill hadn't been paid. As a result, the characters have to light a lot of candles, which would eventually have to be all blown out. I've only read, not seen the play, but as the Tom delivers the closing monologue, the stage directions have Amanda and Laura putting out those candels. So, yes, Les, your version makes more sense.

    Unless she was blowing out the FINAL candle when he said that...

  7. Yes, I believe you're right about why the candles were set burning. I Googled again. There are some stage directions and some descriptive passages telling the reader what the scene looks like. It says Laura bends over the candles and begins to blow them out. So you've got something there, Kirk. Depending on precisely when Tom speaks his lines, candles OR the singular candle could work.

    WV - minti. I hope Laura had minti fresh breath as she was blowing those candles out, and not highly inflammatory garlic breath.

  8. @Limes--The Gentleman Caller might have left earlier than he did.

    In all seriousness, I applaud your knowledge of that play. You must really like it.

    @Tag--Lit or unlit?

  9. I try to put things back the way I found them.

  10. I DO like The Glass Menagerie, Kirk. I like stories about families. I like to watch all the interaction. My own family was small and odd. I think that's why people fascinate me so much. I didn't grow up interacting closely with enough of them. I never know what to expect of them.

    And for some fun, if The Glass Menagerie were a musical, I'd recommend a song for its theme. It's from Woodstock, a small festival held in my youth that you may have heard about. Here's Melanie, singing Candles in the Rain.

    WV - fierium. What was needed to light all of Laura's candles.

  11. Blogger is giving me fits with links. :~{ I already know the link doesn't work.

    Here's how to find Candle in the Rain:

  12. @Limes--I don't know if that's quite what Tennessee Williams had in mind, but I enjoyed listening to the song. God knows, we could use some of that '60s idealism nowadays.

  13. Secret. You'll never have guessed. I'm still an idealist.

    And you're right. Tennessee likely wouldn't have appreciated my theme song. He wasn't of my generation.

  14. This thread is going in unexpected directions, but that's cool.

    Les, when I said I don't know what Tennessee Williams would make of Melanie's song, I was referring to the candle metaphor, not his feelings on the counterculture as a whole.

    Whatever generation he was from, Williams was no square. His plays and movies based on his plays were always controversial. And he did have a social conscience. I got this from the British paper The Guardian. It's written by a Michael Billington:

    I'd be the last to deny Williams's poignant poetry and echoing loneliness, but we overlook the more robust side of his talent. His plays offer a devastating portrait of the ugly prejudices of the American south; they acknowledge economic realities; and, in the spirit of his admired Chekhov, are as comic as they are tragic. For evidence of Williams's strong social conscience – the product of his Episcopalian upbringing – you have to look at the life and letters, as well as the work. Travelling through the American south-west in 1939, he listened attentively to the stories of impoverished, workless families, and shared his meagre rations with their children. He also loathed racism. Appalled that he was unable to prevent The Glass Menagerie playing to all-white audiences in the capital, in 1947 Williams wrote to the New York Times that "any future contract I make will contain a clause to keep the show out of Washington while this undemocratic practice continues". He was influenced by the theories of Brecht's collaborator Erwin Piscator, a German emigre who ran the Drama Workshop in New York and was instrumental in staging an early Williams one-acter, The Long Goodbye, in 1940. Williams's early plays, in particular, often reveal a strong social purpose – a point proved by Trevor Nunn's National theatre revival of Not About Nightingales. Written in 1938, this play vividly dramatised a group of prisoners challenging the Mussolini-like power of a brutal warden. This anti-fascist instinct was one of Williams's guiding principles.

  15. By the way, don't feel bad if you've never heard of the theories of Erwin Piscator. Neither have I.

    You know how it goes when you cut and paste.

  16. Ha, Kirk! I love where your head goes. My comment about Williams not appreciating the music was just playing off of something my dad has always said. "No generation thoroughly appreciates another generation's music." As a person, I think Tennessee was well-evolved. Someone I'd like to know. Someone like-minded about social issues and political ideas.

  17. Your father's right about music, even though I love the '60s, and have in recent years gained an appreciation for Big Band and Tin Pan Alley stuff. I have a harder time with music from recent decades. Probably has nothing to do with the music itself. some of it's good, some of it's bad. I just don't want to expend my energy chasing after the latest thing. Let the teens do that. It's their turn.