Lesson Plans: Grades 9-12

Lesson 3: “The Glass Menagerie”: Impact of Expressionism

Created March 31, 2015


The Lesson


Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams at 20th anniversary of The Glass Menagerie opening.

Credit: Fernandez, Orlando, photographer, 1965.  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, DC.

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. In this lesson, students explore the impact of expressionist techniques in a writing exercise to express their evolving comprehension of how they function in theatre.

Teachers may link to the full unit with Guiding Questions, College and Career Readiness standards and Background. Lesson 3 aligns with CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Learning Objectives

  • Write a thesis-driven essay analyzing the impact of expressionism in the development of a theme in The Glass Menagerie.

Preparation and Resources

Students will need their completed versions of Worksheet 2. Extending Analysis. They will also need instruction or reminders about how to gracefully incorporate examples from the play and cite them properly, according to your expectations.

Lesson Activities

Activity 1. “The Glass Menagerie”: Impact of Expressionism

Students should select a complete row from Worksheet 2. Extending Analysis, and incorporate notes from the previous class discussion and analysis to render this content as a thesis-driven essay. Students should do this activity independently rather than in their pairs or triads.

As students begin to organize and outline their essay, have them pay close attention to the need to provide supporting evidence from the text in their arguments. Make sure they correctly incorporate and cite textual support. They should progress to a concluding statement that extends the thesis.

When they’re ready, ask students to share their thesis statements, perhaps by writing them on a black or whiteboard. As a class, engage in a critique of theses, discussing their strengths and weaknesses in terms of precision, generalizations, originality, and any other characteristics you have emphasized as important for effective thesis statements.

Next, ask students to share their concluding statements (which should be different from their theses, as they should articulate an evolved comprehension). Engage in class-wide critique as above.

Finally, ask students to share a model sentence in which they have incorporated textual support. Ask them to write those sentences on the board exactly as they have written them. As a class, provide any feedback on their work, including suggestions for smoother or more graceful incorporation of text, corrections to punctuation, etc.


Ask students to revise their essays and submit for your feedback.

The Basics

Grade Level


Time Required

1 class periods

Subject Areas
  • Literature and Language Arts > Place > American
  • Literature and Language Arts > Genre > Drama
  • Literature and Language Arts
  • Critical thinking
  • Essay writing
  • Literary analysis
  • Textual analysis
  • Writing skills
  • Diane Moroff (New York, NY)


Activity Worksheets