“Human kind / Cannot bear very much reality.”
— T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets
Of the characters in Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie,this quote applies to Amanda the most. She is a woman who once was beautiful, living a glamorous life with many gentleman callers, being popular, enjoying the peak of her life. Then she gets married to someone who ruins her whole reputation and life, so to try to forget about this, she lives in a delusion, in a reality she made up in her head. A good example of this is in Scene One when she keeps bringing up her amazing life as a young woman in Blue Mountain, where she once received seventeen gentleman callers in one day. Assuming that her daughter is popular as she was, she expects gentleman callers for Laura to be arriving any minute, but the reality gets to her when Laura tells her they aren’t expecting anyone. Her illusions persist through most of the play.
“Nonsense! Laura, I’ve told you never, never to use that word. Why, you’re not crippled, you just have a little defect—hardly noticeable, even! When people have some slight disadvantage like that, they cultivate other things to make up for it—develop charm—and vivacity—and—charm! That’s all you have to do! … One thing your father had plenty of—was charm!” I think that this quote really shows how she isn’t even able to face the fact that her own daughter is crippled, because this doesn’t fit into her image of the world where she still has a good life, husband, and children. She wishes that her daughter would be like her in her peak years and tries to forget everything that contradicts this
“I’ll tell you what I wished for on the moon. Success and happiness for my precious children! I wish for that whenever there’s a moon, and when there isn’t a moon, I wish for it, too.” In my view, this quote tells us that after all of this, she loves her children more than anything, because they help her to forget about reality. In some ways that connects them: for instance, their father abandoned not only Amanda but the whole family. This is cut into the whole family’s heart, not just hers; this pain is shared.
“Go, then! Go to the moon—you selfish dreamer!” This is the last thing that Amanda says to her son before he finally leaves the family behind. I think when she says this she finally faces reality, the fact that her son has become just like his father and that her life has fallen apart and will never be fixed, no matter how hard she tries, because her children can’t fix it, and neither can she.