"The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams, Scenes 1–2

Amanda Wingfield clings to her memories of her youth while living with her two children, Laura and Tom. When Tom brings a friend home for dinner, the family's precarious balance is disrupted.

Here are links to our lists for the play: Scenes 1–2, Scenes 3–4, Scenes 5–6, Scene 7

Here are links to our lists for other works by Tennessee Williams: Sweet Bird of Youth, A Streetcar Named Desire

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. conglomeration
    combining miscellaneous things into a rounded mass
    The Wingfield apartment is in the rear of the building, one of those vast hive-like conglomerations of cellular living-units that flower as warty growths in overcrowded urban centers of lower middle-class population and are symptomatic of the impulse of this largest and fundamentally enslaved section of American society to avoid fluidity and differentiation and to exist and function as one interfused mass of automatism.
  2. tenement
    a run-down apartment house barely meeting minimal standards
    At the rise of the curtain, the audience is faced with the dark, grim rear wall of the Wingfield tenement.
  3. sinister
    threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments
    This building is flanked on both sides by dark, narrow alleys which run into murky canyons of tangled clotheslines, garbage cans, and the sinister latticework of neighboring fire escapes.
  4. proscenium
    the part of a stage between the curtain and the orchestra
    Just beyond, separated from the living room by a wide arch or second proscenium with transparent faded portieres (or second curtain), is the dining room.
  5. disguise
    an outward semblance that misrepresents something's nature
    I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.
  6. sentimental
    effusively or insincerely emotional
    Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental, it is not realistic.
  7. appreciation
    sensitive perception, especially of artistic values
    A well-cooked meal has lots of delicate flavors that have to be held in the mouth for appreciation.
  8. temperament
    your usual mood
    AMANDA [lightly]: Temperament like a Metropolitan star!
  9. accommodate
    have room for; hold without crowding
    Why, sometimes there weren’t chairs enough to accommodate them all.
  10. nimble
    mentally quick
    She also needed to have a nimble wit and a tongue to meet all occasions.
  11. vacant
    without an occupant or incumbent
    She addresses Tom as though he were seated in the vacant chair at the table though he remains by the portieres.
  12. prominent
    conspicuous in position or importance
    Among my callers were some of the most prominent young planters of the Mississippi Delta—planters and sons of planters!
  13. elegiac
    expressing sorrow often for something past
    Her eyes lift, her face glows, her voice becomes rich and elegiac.
  14. beau
    a man with whom one has a romantic relationship
    Bates was one of my bright particular beaux!
  15. fugitive
    someone who is sought by law officers
    She slips in a fugitive manner through the half-open portieres and draws them gently behind her.
  16. apparent
    clearly revealed to the mind or the senses or judgment
    Gradually Laura’s figure becomes apparent and the screen goes out.
  17. ascent
    a movement upward
    At the sound of her ascent, Laura catches her breath, thrusts the bowl of ornaments away, and seats herself stiffly before the diagram of the typewriter keyboard as though it held her spellbound.
  18. imitation
    not genuine or real
    She has on one of those cheap or imitation velvety-looking cloth coats with imitation fur collar.
  19. martyr
    one who suffers for the sake of principle
    Amanda leans against the shut door and stares at Laura with a martyred look.
  20. bewildered
    perplexed by many conflicting situations or statements
    AMANDA: I’ll be all right in a minute, I’m just bewildered—[She hesitates.]—by life.
  21. induct
    place ceremoniously or formally in an office or position
    AMANDA: As you know, I was supposed to be inducted into my office at the D.A.R. this afternoon.
  22. progress
    gradual improvement or growth or development
    But I stopped off at Rubicam’s Business College to speak to your teachers about your having a cold and ask them what progress they thought you were making down there.
  23. assure
    inform positively and with certainty and confidence
    I assured her she did, that you had been going to classes since early in January.
  24. ambition
    a cherished desire
    Fifty dollars’ tuition, all of our plans—my hopes and ambitions for you—just gone up the spout, just gone up the spout like that.
  25. deceive
    be dishonest with
    AMANDA: You did all this to deceive me, just for deception?
  26. occupy
    assume, as of positions or roles
    I know so well what becomes of unmarried women who aren’t prepared to occupy a position.
  27. pitiful
    inspiring mixed contempt and sorrow
    I’ve seen such pitiful cases in the South—barely tolerated spinsters living upon the grudging patronage of sister’s husband or brother’s wife!—stuck away in some little mousetrap of a room—encouraged by one in-law to visit another—little birdlike women without any nest—eating the crust of humility all their life!
  28. disposition
    your usual mood
    AMANDA [absently]: He must have had a jolly disposition.
  29. defect
    an imperfection in a bodily system
    Why, you’re not crippled, you just have a little defect—hardly noticeable, even!
  30. plenty
    a full supply
    One thing your father had plenty of—was charm!

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