Abuse that begins during early childhood is very detrimental to the one being abused. The child is just beginning to learn who they are as a person. Children who are abused or made fun of often feel that they are unworthy and have little or no power and that the bullies are superior and have all the power. They often grow into depressed teenagers. In addition, many of the children abused or tormented of lose all hope and become abusers themselves. Sometimes a mental disability is developed. Either way, childhood abuse has a lifetime effect on the personality of the abused.
It is very unlikely that anything positive will bloom out of someone being abused or tormented as a child. Laura Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie is a great example of a person who was affected by tormenting. Laura is an extremely shy, sensitive, and self-conscious person by nature. Her shyness is even made worse by her mothers forceful and almost brutal nature. Lauras mother, Amanda, puts an enormous amount of pressure on her daughter. Amanda definitely wants the best for Laura but she does not understand that her daughter is very different from herself.
Amanda constantly tells love stories and tells tales of many gentleman callers. She constantly tells her daughter to stay pretty for her gentleman callers even though Laura does not expect any. After, Laura drops out of school Amanda tries to get Lauras brother Tom to set her up with a man. Amanda forces her daughter to dress the way she thinks is appropriate. When Lauras date, Jim arrives Amanda puts tremendous pressure on Laura. Laura is extremely sick, yet Amanda forces her to open the door for Jim and engage in conversation.
As a result of Amanda wanting and pressuring Laura into becoming a person she is not, Laura withdrew herself from reality. Another factor that affected Laura as a person was her slight physical defect, a limp. Her oversensitive nature combined with the way people with disabilities are treated made her think that everyone notices the limp and it become a huge stumbling block to normal living. Her inability to overcome this defect causes her to withdraw into her world of illusion. Tom Wingfield, Amandas son is another character in the play that was tormented by Amanda and others.
His coworkers at the shoe warehouse pester Tom because he is different from them. They ridicule him because he is a sensitive and poetic person not the manly, hard working blue collar worker they want him to be. In addition, Amanda constantly tells Tom how to eat, how to comb his hair, how to act, and what he should be. As a result of this, Tom rebels and instinct sets her off. She believes the word to belong to animals and not Christian adults. tries to explain to his mother that man by instinct are a fighter, a hunter, and a lover.
When Amanda hears this she nearly explodes. As a result of the nagging from his mother and coworkers Tom became a more creative person. The people that poke fun at Tom do not change him in anyway. In fact, it encourages him to rebel even further and he decides not to change a bit, only be himself. Tom begins to go to the movies every night and to drink alcohol to escape reality. Tom realizes that these are only temporary psychological escapes and he must begin to live an adventurous life instead of watch adventure. Tom begins to write poetry more often and reads many books.
When Amanda began to confiscate the books which he had brought home, his life became almost intolerable. Some say that Amanda and the people that bullied him caused Tom to change for the worse and made him more selfish. He left his mother and sister to care for themselves at home and left the house in pursuit of adventure. In reality, Toms rejection of his family was not a selfish escape. Instead, Tom recognized that he must escape in order to save himself. It was a means of self-preservation. He knew that if he stayed, he would be destroyed as a man and as an artist.
Laura was more susceptible to the mental attacks because she is a woman. Gender roles are still quite clear that boys are to get angry when attacked and should fight back, while girls get hurt and cry, and should look for someone else to protect them. For Laura, there was no one to protect her and to improve her self-esteem. She tried to be a quiet good girl and she thought that is what would make people like her. When that did not work she began to doubt her worth and live in a world of her own. Some people believe that nothing positive can sprout out of abuse or being picked on.
One must realize that the only way to defeat mental anguish is to fight against it. As proved with Laura, if one sits back and does not fight against it, the anguish will ultimately lead to despair. On the other hand, with Tom, he did not give into the constant nagging of what his mother and coworkers wanted him to be like. He pushed to do what he thought was right, not what others thought was right. The tormenting Tom received drew out his inner most creativity. In conclusion, one must fight against mental anguish and overcome gender roles in order for anything beneficial to occur.