A Mother’s Love: Too Strong, Too Weak It is a fact of common knowledge that mother’s theme in literature is quite popular and distinctive, an evidence of which is numerous literary masterpieces, where mother’s characters are involved both first-hand and indirectly. Therefore, their roles are depicted in relatedness with their children, disclosing a nature of their relationships and family ties, and simultaneously emphasizing the meaning of mother’s character not only in literary plot, but in real life as well.
That is the case with a purpose of this research paper – to indicate the most considerable and peculiar moments of mother-son relationships in the plays Hamlet and The Glass Menagerie, which are obviously fulfilled with confrontations, issues of moral domination and silent disagreement. While speaking about Amanda Wingfield and Queen Gertrude, it is very difficult not to notice their constant desire to dominate in the lives of their sons, manipulate their feelings and guide them in certain actions. However, their intentions still remain unattainable, which is one of the similarities between them.
In particular, Amanda’s nagging of Tom leads to his withdrawal after the last fight, where she claims, “Don’t think about us, a mother deserted, an unmarried sister who’s crippled and has no job! Don’t let anything interfere with your selfish pleasure I just go, go, go – to the movies! ” (Williams, 75). As for Gertrude and Hamlet, their confrontation transforms into mutual accusations of offending the memory of the late King. Hamlet sees a betrayer and a liar in her face, while she cannot accept his impatience and self-rebellion, calling him “my too much changed son at once” (Shakespeare, 29).
Hence, Queen Gertrude cannot possibly manipulate her son as well as Amanda Wingfield. One more-aimed resemblance consists in Amanda and Gertrude’s attitude to life. That being that, both of them take everything as it is. To be more precise, Amanda Wingfield always turns back to the old memories, honoring Tom and Laura’s father. Gertrude gets used to being a Queen, excepting and appreciating the entire range of royal benefits, so, she appears to be the embodiment of both a Queen and a mother, which appropriately is concluded in Hamlet’s words: “I shall in my best obey you Mother” (Shakespeare, 11).
Harold Bloom, has made a detailed analysis of Hamlet’s story action by action, including role of the main characters, and Queen Gertrude is not an exception. He speaks of her as an equal character in the events described in the play, despite the priority of Hamlet and Claudius. Bloom states, “To understand Gertrude properly, it is only necessary to examine the lines Shakespeare has chosen for her to say. She is, except for her description of Ophelia’s death, concise and pithy in speech, with a talent of seeing the essence of every situation presented before her eyes.
If she is not profound, she is certainly never silly. ” (Bloom, 321) It is interesting also to consider Harold Bloom’s critics of The Glass Menagerie, where he examines the character of Amanda Wingfield as well. The most peculiar is Bloom’s claim of the “critical moment in the play. Blooms says of Amanda’s confession she he says to Tom, “There’s so many things in my heart that I cannot describe to you! ” It appears that Amanda is not purposefully cruel or antagonistic after all and her character becomes deeper after this admission. ” (Bloom, 33)
Hence, Harold Bloom pointed out that both characters, Amanda Wingfield and Gertrude, are morally very strong personalities, more or less devoted to their sons. At the same time, the confrontations between them and their children are undesignedly initiated by their intensions to direct Tom’s and Hamlet’s life respectively and dominate in their worldview. The second point of discussion consists in comparison of Hamlet’s and Tom Wingfield’s characters. In addition to difference in time periods, their dreams and goals are also very distinctive.
Hamlet’s story is about revenge, hero’s internal conflicts and the problem of the right choice, where he states the famous phrase, “To be or not to be” (Shakespeare, 43). Every single character in this play possesses both good and evil sides, and the problem of the right choice exacerbates up to the end. Hamlet as a play, is a demonstration of doubts of the main character, even in his mother Queen Gertrude due to the adultery she is involved in and her behavior after the late King’s death.
Michael Pennington, the founder of Shakespeare Company, also has made a detailed analysis of Hamlet scene by scene, and he accurately emphasized on Shakespeare’s writing merit in disclosing mother-son relationship. Pennington states,“This is partly a subtlety of Shakespeare’s – Gertrude has simply wiped old Hamlet out, forgetful of his bode and spirit, and for that reason is blind to him now. ” (Pennington, 102) Posing himself as the story’s narrator, Tom Wingfield deals with chasing his future plans, while being trapped among past memories of Amanda Wingfield and her permanent instructing.
In particular, Amanda argues, “You are the only young man that I know of who ignores the fact that the future becomes the present, the present becomes the past, and the past turns into everlasting regret if you don’t plan for it! ” (Williams, 34). George Ehrenhaft, assumes that Amanda Wingfield was one of the reasons of Tom’s escape. He says that,“One reason Tom left home was his mother, Amanda. She drove him to it. How? You’ll see the instant you meet her. She nags Tom about his smoking, scolds him about getting up in the morning, and instructs him in the fine art of chewing food.
It isn’t easy to have a mother like Amanda. ” (Ehrenhaft, 7) The contradictions of both main characters are also affected by a family history. In Hamlet the plot line is made up around the death of Hamlet’s father and that is why the entire range of his feelings, including malice, doubts and resentment, are dictated by recent circumstances, which motivate him to confront his mother: “A bloody deed! almost as bad, good mother, As kill a king, and marry with his brother. ” (Shakespeare, 12).
On the other hand, there is the less dramatic Wingfield’s family story, which is associated with withdrawal of “faithless Mr. Wingfield” , occurred before events of the play (Williams, 16). Behind constant remembrances of her husband, Amanda Wingfield seems to hide a true fear that her son will do the same thing, and eventually she,herself, pushes him into it. Moreover, she admits the resemblance of both when she states, “It’s terrifying! More and more you remind me of your father! ” (Williams, 27).
George Ehrenhaft also acknowledges, “Lately, Amanda has begun to notice similarities between Tom and her husband. Tom is bored with life and very restless…. She fears that Tom will run away. She gets him to promise that he won’t leave, at least not until his sister has a good man to provide for her. ” (Ehrenhaft, 8) To understand the points of view of both Hamlet and Tom Wingfield a reader should consider the circumstances, described in the plot line of both plays, which had a reasonable influence on their relationships within a family, including Gertrude and Amanda Wingfield, respectively.
William Shakespeare’s play is a tragic story of Hamlet, his internal rebellion and disappointment in his mother particularly. At the same time, The Glass Menagerie appears to be a memory play, disclosing Tom’s opposition to attempts of his mother to dominate over his life and actions. In Hamlet an issue of mutual accusation and suspiciousness do not leave any place for demonstration of maternal love or disclosing of real mother-son interactions. One might clearly observe that Gertrude is posed more like a Queen, but less as a mother.
The taste of power unites Claudius and Gertrude no less than love, and, therefore, the Queen might not protect Hamlet, as he is dangerous for her. Instead, she is looking for the ways to manipulate him and soften his feelings, notwithstanding his resistance. Less dramatic, but rather deep confrontation occurred between Amanda and Tom Wingfield, the reasons of which one might find in Amanda’s attachment to the illusions of the past and her concern about father-son resemblance.
Her behavior pushed Tom to give up on family, especially much beloved sister Laura. In particular, her constant nagging and instructing, which finally could drive everyone crazy. Amanda’s domination over Laura is obvious, but in case with Tom she has lost this fight. Hence, one may find that these two plays are really portraying the stories of mother-son confrontation, fulfilled with silent disagreement, mutual accusations, and dominations over each other’s feelings and attempts to manipulate.
Works Cited: Bloom H. Hamlet. Chelsea House Publishers, 2008. Print. Bloom H. The Glass Menagerie. Chelsea House Publishers, 2006. Print. Gorman T. , Shakespeare W. Hamlet. Saddleback Educational Publishing, Inc. , 2010. Print. Pennington M. “Hamlet”: A User’s Guide. Nick Hern Books, 1997. Print. Williams T. The Glass Menagerie. Heinemann, 1996. Print. Williams T. , Ehrenhaft G. Tennessee Williams’s the Glass Menagerie ; a Streetcar Named Desire. Barron’s Educational Series, 1985. Print.