2024 : 5 : 28
Mahdi Javidshad

Mahdi Javidshad

Academic rank:
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1901-1458
Education: PhD.
ScopusId: 57223873393
Address: Arak University


An Althusserian Reading of Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie, With Special Reference to the Role of Art and Family
Althusser’s theory, overdetermination, ideology, ideological state apparatus, real art, distancing effect, The Glass Menagerie
Researchers Mohammad Ghaffary(PrimaryAdvisor)، Mahdi Javidshad(Advisor)، Hayder Razzaq Kadhim Al-Khafaji(Student)


Art and family as social institutions with the potential to either protect or endanger the interests of governments, have always been fertile grounds for many artists to tackle political and social issues on, especially in the time of crisis. Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie which is set exactly at the critical period of the Great Depression, is one of those literary works that indicated the political dimension of family and art and their effects on the lives of the individuals including the protagonist. Since this study aimed at bridging the gap between the artistic work and its political content, Louis Althusser's theories provide an insightful framework to analyze the representation of family and art in The Glass Menagerie, offering a deeper understanding of the power dynamics and ideological structures at play within the play's narrative. Drawing on Althusser's theories, it was discussed that Williams's representation of family has been overdetermined by the socio-political context in which the play has emerged. Thus, the family in the play functioned as Althusserian ideological state apparatus and thus blocks the protagonist's free will in order to mold him into a genuine laborer for capitalism. However, the protagonist's occasional artistic pursuits and his masterpiece which is the memory play he narrated are examples of Althusserian real arts which utilize unusual techniques or distancing effects to enlighten the audience about their servitude to ideology. Thus, in this play, art showed to be capable of serving as an antidote to the ideology the family means to propagate.