Escaping Reality in "The Glass Menagerie"

598 Words3 Pages
In Tennessee Williams's play, The Glass Menagerie, he reflects upon the economic status and desperation of an American family living in St. Louis during the 1930s. Williams portrays three characters: Amanda Wingfield, the disappointed mother; Tom, the narrator and trapped son; and Laura, the crippled daughter. Williams compares the Wingfield apartment to "one of those vast hive-like conglomerations of cellular living-units..." a reminder to each character of the harsh reality of their life (epilogue.1972). Although they strive for escape from the same situation, each character has a way of dealing with hardships that are symbolized throughout the play in various ways. William's use of symbolism emphasizes one of the main themes; escaping reality. The play begins with Tom introducing characters and giving a brief explanation of the time and setting. He makes a special point to introduce a fifth character, seen only in a photograph that hangs in their apartment. Mr. Wingfield, the man in the photo, made his escape from the family sixteen years ago with only one message sent to his wife and children. Since he has made his escape, each of the family members he left behind have chosen different objects, places, and even memories to use as a means to escape the harshness of the reality that they face. Tom Wingfield, supporter and man of the house, seeks adventure that his lack of motivation will hinder through the end of the play. His false pretense of seeking adventure in the movies he frequently attends is a mask for his escape from the dreaded apartment he shares with Amanda and Laura. Tom uses the fire escape, which is the entrance to the apartment, as a mere escape to smoke cigarettes, despite the harassment it ... ... middle of paper ... ...y they face through the use of different objects, places and memories. Laura's desire to be understood is fulfilled by her glass menagerie; yet, it is shattered with the hammer of Amanda's ambitions, which are cloaked by jonquil-filled memories from a time of old. Tom makes his way out of the "coffin" only to be haunted by the memories of it. The Wingfields seem to think escape is possible in their world of illusion, yet not one of the three can make a clean break from the situation at hand. Williams's use of the escape theme demonstrates the hopelessness and futility of each character's attempt to escape reality through the fire escape, movies, memories, and the glass menagerie. Williams, Tennessee. "The Glass Menagerie." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 9th ed. New York: Longman, 2005. 1972-2022.
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