Laura is a unique and fragile character, she is happy to live within her own environment but is immediately threatened by the outside world. Laura feels safest when she is isolated from the rest of the world, the apartment is not so much a prison but a refuge. However, despite feeling safest here Laura is still reserved in comparison to her brother and mother.
Laura is forced to do things that she does not want to by her mother and usually doesn’t speak until spoken too.It is easy to forget the Laura is there while reading the play as she is so quiet, it is possible that Laura’s actions on stage are an important part of the play as she is so quiet. As Laura is such a quiet character she is unable to cope with conflict between her mother, Amanda and her brother, Tom.
In scene one, page four, Laura is forced to attempt to change the conversation to avoid the bickering atmosphere, Laura rises saying ‘I’ll get the blancmange. ‘ Until this point Laura sits quietly at the table.It could be considered that Laura initiates the change in conversation from Tom’s smoking habits, allowing Amanda to repeat the story about her gentleman callers, however Laura only mentions getting the food as a result of her unease at the arguing and possibly to prevent Tom back-chatting their mother anymore.
Similarly at the start of scene three, page fifteen, Laura stands in front of Amanda and Tom while they argue ‘with clenched hands and panicky expression’.It is possible to forget that Laura is present at all during this scene as she only speaks twice. The first time she speaks is when she pleads with Tom crying out his name half way through the scene and later saying ‘My glass! Menagerie’ as a result of Tom clumsily throwing his coat across the room which falls onto the shelf of glass ornaments. The scene is dominated by Amanda and Tom, Laura could be considered an onlooker, however when Laura does speak it highlights the unhappiness of the scene and the importance of Tom’s words as well as the consequences.Tom’s actions forced Laura to cry out, this shows how Tom’s actions effect the family as a whole and consequently, his final action of leaving will also cause problems for the remaining to members of the family. Laura is forced by her mother to do things, these often seem cruel and can be interpreted in different ways.
In scene one, page seven, Laura is forced by Amanda to admit that she would not be expecting any visitors, It is only when she is alone that Laura speaks out loud, saying, ‘I don’t believe we are going to receive any, Mother. In scene two, page thirteen, Laura admits the obvious ‘I’m – crippled’ as a result of Amanda telling her she will have a husband if she can’t have a career.Laura states the harsh truth which is very different to Amanda’s sugar coated ideas and thoughts for their future. Although Amanda insists that Laura is not crippled it could be viewed that she uses her daughter in order to get sympathy so the butter that Amanda wants can be put on their tab.
In the days this would have been an awkward thing to ask for and it is obvious the Laura does not want to ask them to do it but she is talked into it by Amanda.Also in scene four Laura is treated like a go-between, Amanda and Tom will not speak to each other directly and Laura is in the middle speaking for each of them. Laura does not hold the conversation herself but speaks for others as they have asked her too, this again shows that she does not intiate anything herself, instead she does as the others asks without standing up for herself.
In scene five Laura, again, does not speak until spoken too. It is not until the end of the scene on page thirty-seven that Laura speaks as her mother calls her into the front room.Laura wishes on the moon because Amanda tells her too, althought she asks her mother what she should wish for, this shows that possibly she is unable to think for herself. Laura appears to be more comfortable around her brother, Tom, in scene four Laura acts upon her own accord asking her brother questions, ‘Tom! Tom, what are you doing? ‘ and ‘Where have you been all this time? ‘ Laura shows genuine concern for her brother, and her words are taken in a very different way in comparison to that if Amanda had said them, this shows that Laura is able to initiate a conversation herself.In comparison Laura is unable to start a conversation with Jim. Jim represents the world outside of her apartment so Laura is at unease when he is first present. Later on in the scene, page fifty-eight, Laura is able to open up towards Jim, she tells him how she had struggled making friends how she admired his singing voice. Laura’s behaviour here shows a strong parallel to how she behaves around her mother, eventually Jim and Laura dance together, this shows a huge change in Laura’s self confidence and ability to interact with other characters, however this is only due to Jim starting a conversation and speaking to her first of all.
Laura acts by herself when she decides not to attend business college, however she is unable to tell her mother and can only explain once Amanda brings it up with her in scene two. Laura is able to stand up for herself and be slightly outspoken to her mother in scene five when she tells her mother that it is her fault that she is so nervous ‘by all the fuss! You make it seem so important! ‘ Yet again she only admits to this as Amanda asks her ‘Why are you trembling? ‘ This proves that while Laura does have valid things to say she is reluctant to say them until she has to.Laura is an important character in the play, she could be viewed as a character to pity due to her shyness and reluctance to participate in conversation however during her time with Jim and when she speaks to her brother she is able to communicate, this enforces the possibility that Laura is almost drowned out by her mother and her speech. Laura’s conversation does not flow when she is around her mother, it must be remembered that the play is a memory play and is from Tom’s perspective.Tom may be over exaggerating both Amanda and Laura’s characters and by doing so he is reminding himself just why he left.
While Laura speaks very little at times she is still an important figure to have on the stage as Tom’s feeling of guilt is ultimately for leaving his sister. Laura speaks and acts as a result of the actions of Amanda, Tom and Jim. Although she is capable of conversation she does not take part in one until she is comfortable enough to do so with her environment.It is not entirely true that she only speaks when asked to, she shows her concern for her brother and speaks to him easily. She is also influenced to talk when she is not comfortable with the atmosphere, due to the arguing between her brother and mother.
The Wingfield’s home environment is not the happiest it could be, Laura suffers due to her mother and brother’s arguing. Laura is a sensitive character and is affected by her surroundings, it is possible that Laura is happier being an observer than joining in.