Thomas Lanier Williams was born in 1911 to an ill matched couple, a travelling shoe salesman who liked poker and drinking and a rector's daughter. Young Thomas spent a happy childhood at his grandfather's rectory thanks to the fact that his father was frequently absent. At school he was teased because of his southern accent. His mother, who hated her husband was of little help to him. His elder sister Rose became his only refuge. He began to write stories as early as 1922 and won his first prize for an essay in 1927. He died in 1983. T. Williams was the greatest playwright in U. S. dramatic history, he wrote plays, for example "Battle of Angels", "The Gentleman Caller" and "The Glass Menagerie".
The story is about the family Wingfield. Amanda, the mother of Tom and Laura is a lonely woman. Her husband left the family a long time ago because he fell in love with long distance. She is controlling Laura because a childhood illness has left her crippled, and she is very fragile. Not she herself, but her life is paranoiac. Certainly she has endurance and a kind of heroism. They are both independent, that means that they need each other, though it is an unhealthy relationship. Laura is dependent, she is shy and lives in a world of her own. She dreams all the time, so Tom thinks about his sister and he tries to explain it to his mother. In general the play is about the idea of Amanda to find a gentleman caller for Laura. Laura does not want to marry, she is craving for an escape from her mother. Like her brother Tom. One day it happens as Tom invites a highschool friend home for dinner. Jim O'Connor, a nice, ordinary, young man whom Laura knows from her time in highschool. At that time, she was in love with him, but he had a girlfriend. Laura cannot believe that it is him, and she does not want to see him because her dreams would be destroyed. She is afraid to see him. After dinner with him, they have enough time to talk to each other alone. After a time Jim explains Laura that he is not free because he is going out with the same girl all time. He is engaged to be married with Betty as Tom and Amanda find out later. So this evening is a disappointment for the whole Wingfield family.
The story is autobiographical because Williams also had a sister who was mentally ill. Laura is a very labile and sensible person. She dreams all the time of a better world. She does not want to accept reality because she built up her own dream world. Her brother Tom and Laura's mother want to change that. They want to bring her back to reality and they want to find a man who marries her. I think that Laura has to live her life like she wants because it is her own life. She feels happy in her world of dreams until Jim destroys it. The unicorn is a symbol for Laura. It is very fragile, just like herself. Now she won't trust anymore any man. Amanda is too demanding, she turns her own son out of the house and Laura will never be able to live her own life.
Amanda Wingfield, the mother is a woman of great but confused vitality clinging to another time and place. She is not paranoiac, but her life is paranoid. There is much to admire in Amanda, and as much to love and pity as there is to laugh at. Certainly she has endurance and a kind of heroism and though her foolishness makes her unwittingly cruel at times, there is tenderness in her slight person. She is simply too demanding for Laura. She only wants her to look good all the time and to find a man who marries her.
Laura Wingfield is her daughter. Amanda, having failed to establish contact with reality, continues to live vitally in her illusions, but Laura' situation is even graver. A childhood illness has left her crippled, one leg slightly shorter than the other. This defect need not to be more than suggested on stage. Stemming from this, Laura's Separation increases until she is like a piece of her own glass collection, too exquisitely fragile to move from the shelf. Her life depends on her brother and her mother.
Tom is a poet with a job in a warehouse, therefore his life is destroyed. He has always problems with his complaining mother.
Jim O'Connor is a ordinary nice young man, but he is very superficial. He does not recognise what Laura feels for him. Laura was just a flirt for him; he is already engaged and not willing to marry Laura.
I think the play shows very well how a demanding and strict mother can destroy the life of her children.