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Tennessee Williams and Kazuo Ishiguro both depict the theme of ‘ loss and damage ‘ and the idea of the past not being perceived but rather alive. Repetivlety throughout their novels. Perhaps both authors foreshadow their damage. past through the central characters, Kathy and Tom. Kevin Catchpole states Tom is the personification of Williams himself. [1]Similarly, both novels loiter around the motif of the past, however, share two perspectives on the idea of the ‘past’, on one side we see Kathy sharing an unhealthy obsession with the past whereas Tom does his all to escape the past that haunts him continuously. A key message through ‘ Never Let Me Go’ could be expressed as a burdensome way to take one’s leave of the past especially when the past is your only source of comfort and motivation, the idea that there is still light at the end of the road no matter how dark life seems during the present.

It can also be argued that ‘The Glass Menagerie’ was set during the era of The Great Depression, the pressure of the Great Depression could perhaps be a further cause of why Tom abhorred his past. He was desperate to move away and find better opportunities and to heal from his distressing past which refused to let go of him. Furthermore, it could also be avowed that perhaps the life that you live during your childhood determines how you will be living in the future, maybe the life you are desperately trying to escape is the life that is written for you. Tom often ‘goes to the movies’ to get away from friends and family during the play.

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Possibly, William is representing his personal life through Tom in this manner. Williams fixates his attention on the cinema for consolation, as a way to break free from the agonizing events in the family. It is fair to say that Tom moves aside physically and emotionally, he states’ further than the moon’, which highlights Tom’s agony and his desperation to flee. In addition to this, this reveals Tom’s willingness to travel beyond the moon, suggesting that even being just on the moon will not help him escape his history, therefore he suggests ‘further than the moon, hoping that maybe he will discover a way of escaping his past.’ to find a sense of peace and tranquillity while being so far-flung. The past should feel distant to him, Moreover, this brings more attention to how disturbing Tom’s past may have been for him to be this eager to break free. The emphasis on the noun ‘moon’ shows the length would go to create distance between his damaged past. Nevertheless, Tom’s past is unable to leave him and continuously lingers around with him, this is seen when Tom states ‘ Oh Laura I tried to leave you behind but I am more faithful than I intended to be’, once again this implicates the idea that Tom is unable to leave his past behind, no matter how far how travels the past persistently gets thrown onto his face. Tom uses the theme of loyalty as an excuse to carry around his past, no matter how hard he tries to leave it all behind, the past always seizes hold of him.

It could be argued that Tom’s attachment to the past is simply because of his addiction to Laura. It is through this addiction that he never lets go of his past and remains damaged throughout the novel.

‘The Glass Menagerie’ was set during the great depression, the pressure of the Great Depression could perhaps be a further cause of why Tom abhorred his past. Desperate to move away and find better opportunities and heal his injured past.

One source of damage, according to both authors, is the characters’ refusal to let go of memories. In William’s play, Tom is physically and emotionally stuck by his past experiences as a result of the restraint that prevented him from pursuing his aspirations. When Tom escapes in the final scene, he feels both liberated and burdened by Laura making him feel as if he is trapped and unable to move beyond the past. Although one could argue that Tom’s recollections will always haunt him no matter how far he runs, Williams’ main point is that no matter how far you run physically or psychologically, you will never be able to escape from your memories. Williams continues to depict the illusion of freedom and the false promise of escape, demonstrating that memories will never truly allow you to escape the past.

Some have undoubtedly contended, that Kathy utilizes her recollections to distract herself from her reality in Ishiguro’s story, because of the devastation the clones suffered in their youth, they are unable to go forward with their lives, so they reflect on their past. They can filter out the truth that they have no future by reminiscing on former memories Kathy pales in comparing everything in her environment to her past, ‘Hailsham,’ the buildings, and the green space around her, even when she drives, she is constantly reminded of her past. Comparable to Tom from ‘The Glass Menagerie,’ both characters have an undesirable linkage to their past, which inhibits them from mending and facing new opportunities, they are unable to let go of their earlier days. In ‘Never Let Me Go,’ K Richards says that the past is significantly more positive, as seen by Kathy’s description of her history as a ‘golden time.’ The adjective ‘golden’ implies that Kathy admires her past, therefore she seizes any opportunity to recollect and hang onto that. She is, perhaps, it is fair to say that she is most content when looking back at the past. Being in the shadows of her past is significantly more pleasant and fulfilling than being in her presence. The past provides solace and reassurance, reminding her of all the positive memories that she endured. Kathy’s past has not died down as she does not let it pass by.

However, this contradicts Tom’s past, in which he would do anything to escape it. Ishiguro grew up in Nagasaki, Japan, before moving to. He too had many memories of Nagasaki, whilst staying in the UK like Kathy. Ishiguro presents Kathy as someone who admires the past obsessively putting in minimal effort to let go of his history but ultimately fails, whereas Williams plays Tom as someone who is eager to let go of his past but is unable to do so. Amanda appears to be thoroughly devastated by the events of the past and unwilling to go on. Similarly, we see Ruth breaking down throughout the play as a result of her prior guilt.

Amanda shares an addiction to her past, simply one reason being her spouse. It is said in the novel that Amanda retains a ‘larger than life-size photograph’ of her husband. To put it differently, hangs over the family, making it difficult for Amanda to forget about him. Perhaps Amanda does not want to forget him and uses the picture as a way to feel comfortable and closer to him emotionally and physically for herself and her kids. Dominic Maxwell states ‘ It is a guilt play as well as a memory play’.[2] Perhaps Amanda feels guilty about moving on after her husband’s death, she may feel that if she moves on and leaves the past behind, she will forget about him completely, hence she has a larger-than-life-size photograph ‘of her husband.

Amanda wears a ‘girlish gown of yellowed voile with a blue silk ribbon’ as the play develops; she wears the same one when she first met her husband. This illustrates that Amanda is not willing to let go of her past and uses any excuse to remind herself of him. Amanda is portrayed by Williams as a tenacious woman who refuses to let go of her past, even though it is tearing her apart and causing her harm. Like Kathy, Amanda does not let her past die down.

Comparatively, Ruth can be seen as another character who desires to cut all ties with their past. This is shown when Kathy asks ‘Do you remember’, she puts on a blank face with no emotions, acting as if she does not remember Hailsham. This powerfully demonstrates her rejection of her past, and the lengths she would go to avoid bringing up the past. Kathy is describing her ‘memories’ of the ‘golden time’ at Hailsham for more than half of the novel, although she is narrating in the present. Kathy, like most other characters in Ishiguro’s novel, is fascinated with her past, unwilling to let go of her memories of Hailsham.

Presenting a strong theme of past and memories. Either way, the past remains alive. Ishiguro is implying that the clones have nothing to look forward to in the present, so they turn to the past as a means of escaping their harsh circumstances. As Lewis put it, ‘You get a sense of pity for all persons at Hailsham throughout the work because there is a dramatic irony that they are unaware of their tragic existence.’ The way Ishiguro switches back and forth between the present and the past demonstrates the past’s overwhelming impact and reflects the characters’ intense commitment to their past, confirming that the ‘past is not dead, it is not even past.’ Williams, on the other hand, assigns Tom to be the narrator of the past, demonstrating the past’s impact and power right away. It is evident that the ending of both ‘Never Let Me Go’ and ‘The Glass Menagerie’ portrays a key message about the past. The idea that perhaps there is no escaping the past, Maybe all the running away we do from the past is what we are predetermined for in life, Furthermore towards the ending Kathy states ‘ This was the spot where everything I’d ever lost since my childhood had washed up’, In this fashion, Ishiguro portrays the idea of memories or how they will always be with you in some manner or another. Ishiguro has a strong image of an imaginary Japan in which he constructs his adventures and recollections, despite the reality that he resides in. Kathy perceives Tommy approaching her from the horizon, signifying her loyalty to the past and how she perceives the past as current. Ishiguro treats the past as a pity that the characters can’t let go of, and he separates them from their memories. In The Glass Menagerie, on the other hand, Williams concludes the play by harkening back to the past; Tom desires ‘anything that reminds him of the past. ‘In The Glass Menagerie,’ Williams concludes the play by referencing the past once more; Tom desires ‘something that you can blow your candles out,’ which could be a reference to the past. The ‘candles’ are a metaphorical representation of the past; Tom is unable to forget Laura and, as a result, is looking for anything to blow out his past like the candles. The idea of blowing out the candles and having the past blown away with it, with no prospect of returning. ‘Never Let Me Go’ depicts a brilliant past that provides comfort and peace to the characters, but ‘The Glass Menagerie’ depicts an unforgiving and unhealthy past, implying that no matter what happens in the future, nothing will be the same as the memories left behind will continuously find ways to haunt you. This very much links back to the idea that the past will never die down and the past may stick with you as these are the good memories you have as you are suffering in the present, so you hold onto the past extra tight as it makes you feel good about yourself, and brings your mind a sense of peace.

Overall, the past is a powerful and recurring topic in both texts; we can see that the past is not dead and yet very much alive via the characters of ‘Never Let Me Go’ and ‘The Glass Menagerie.’ All of the characters can’t seem to let go of their pasts. Attached to their past, some find comfort and satisfaction in not being able to forget the past, and others try to escape the past that lingers around them. Both Williams and Ishiguro exploited the past’s effectiveness as the central theme and heart of their novels.

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