Lesson 1: “The Glass Menagerie” as Expressionist Theatre

Tennessee Williams’ classic play, The Glass Menagerie (1944), was an extension of the expressionism that came out of Europe in the early 20th century. In essence, expressionism interprets the world through the artist’s internal, subjective lens, not as an objective reflection of reality.

This lesson is one part of a three lesson unit about The Glass Menagerie. Lesson 1 will engage students in the first steps of literary analysis—i.e., description—by asking them to identify what contributes to The Glass Menagerie as expressionist theatre and toward what apparent ends. This first lesson in the unit will prepare them for the unit’s second lesson, in which they will analyze the effects of those techniques they observe in action here.

Teachers may link to the full unit with Guiding Questions, College and Career Readiness standards and Background. Lesson 1 aligns with CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Learning Objectives

To identify and explicate Williams’ use of expressionist techniques by citing strong and thorough textual evidence from both The Glass Menagerie and informational texts