Metafiction, Hamlet and The Glass Menagerie
In a metadrama, a play manifests an additional implication within the play. It serves as a tool to provide additional insinuations to the total structure, form, and style conveyed in the play. The following discussions are going to analyze the use of metadrama in the case of two plays: Hamlet and the Glass Menagerie. The discussions made in this paper are to be based on the specific scenes of the said plays.
One of the more recognizable Shakespearean plays, the use of metadrama in this context has contributed mainly to the development of the storyline and imagery of the play as a whole. One must first recognize that Hamlet is a play concerning about the development of a would-be king along with the struggles from within himself and with his environment. It is depicts a series of events leading to the moment where the main character has learned how he would realize his destiny.
The play highlights the performance of actors as actors themselves. This is especially true in the case of Hamlet when he feigned insanity right in the middle of the play. At this point, the audience is aware of the performance being done by Hamlet and his basic intentions of doing so. The use of such technique has provided a different approach where the audience realizes that they are watching a play within a play.
This is similarly seen in the scene where the Italian play, “The Mousetrap“, was being portrayed by the characters. In itself, employing such acts provides the audience an image of lies and deceit on the part of Hamlet and illusion on the part of Claudius and Gertrude. Specifically, Hamlet used the play to seek the truth and build on it to establish his decided course of action. Moreover, the use of the play also highlights the illusion held by Claudius and Gertrude as they hold on to power which is ironically devoid of actual authority.
In using metadrama within the play, the stage decidedly formed elaborate scenery. Moreover, along with this the said method has similarly triggered the use of intense imagery to convey meaning in the dialogues of the actors. Lines like "tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature” manifests the Shakespearean constant which alludes to greenery and lush foliage.
III. The Glass Menagerie
In the case of the play “Glass Menagerie,” the barrier between the actors and the audience is taken down as the narrator directly addressed the audience. This is the form of metadrama which Williams employed in this play. Specifically, the narrator’s actions in directly addressing the audience make the audience remember that they are watching a play, or rather an illusion of sorts.
The prevailing theme really is seen by the inability of the characters of Tom and Amanda to carry out what they want to do because the established responsibilities that they have to accomplish. Throughout the play, the characters acquire a rather escapist attitude as seen in Amanda’s constant flashbacks to her youth and Tom’s constant visit in the movies and magician shows. These two instances represent the similar use of metadrama in the play. In these two instances, the characters portray how they tend to break away from the real world; with Laura constantly being enamored by the glass menageries and her dreams of grandeur while Tom’s constant fascination of fame and wealth.
It is also the use of these metadrama that symbolisms in the play emerge. For Amanda, her constant blasts from the past insinuate the regrets of a person who has gone through life full of regrets and missteps. In the same way, Laura’s constant encounter with her glass menageries displays her fragility and her innocence which will essentially be destroyed as the play develops.
In taking these imageries and symbolism to greater meaning, one must place the context of these scenes appropriately. For instance, the rather exuberant and sometimes tumultuous ride that the characters are experiencing tends to reflect the 1940s where disorder is staple and an imminent war is brewing. Taking these into consideration, the state which these escapist attitudes manifested by the characters tend to make sense.
The plays discussed above provided a picture on how metadrama affects the structure, form, and style of the play. On this discussion, it has been established that the method is apparently used in both classical and modern plays, both on which conveys considerable implications on the presentations of the play. It grants the audience the opportunity to recognize the imageries employed and the symbolisms used to convey their counterparts in the real world.
In a sense, the use of metadrama in plays also highlights the escapist needs of the audience. The use of these methods trends to highlight to the audience that they are indeed watching a play, a transitory means of breaking away from their current state where responsibility, tasks, deadlines, and all that adult concerns leaves them even for just a few minutes.
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