Free Glass Menagerie Essays: Symbols

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Symbols in The Glass Menagerie In the play, The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, Williams uses many symbols which represent many different things. Many of the symbols used in the play try to symbolize some form of escape or difference between reality and illusion. The first symbol, presented in the first scene, is the fire escape. This represents the "bridge" between the illusory world of the Wingfields and the world of reality. This "bridge" seems to be a one way excursion. But the direction varies for each character. For Tom, the fire escape is the way out of the world of Amanda and Laura and an entrance into a world of new dimensions. For Laura, the fire escape is a way into her own world. A way to escape from reality. Amanda perceives the fire escape as a way for gentlemen callers to enter their lives. She is also trying to escape her own vacant life. Our author, Tennessee Williams utilizes the fire escape as a literal exit from his own reality as well. His way of escaping is through the play. In Tom's opening speech, he says, "I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion." This quote refers to Williams' own life told through the play. Everyone in the play seeks haven from their lives, attempting to escape into an imaginary fallacy world. In "The Glass Menagerie," Williams' fire escape portrays each of the character's need to use the fire escape as a literal exit from their own reality. The Glass Menagerie is set in the apartment of the Wingfield family. By description, it is a cramped place located in the city of St. Louis. It is one of many apartments in the neighborhood. Of the Wingfield family members, none like living in the apartment. The only reason that traps them in their submissive dwelling is poverty. The concept of escaping their own lives and retreating into an illusion world has entered each of the character's minds. Escaping from this lifestyle, this apartment, and these relationships is a significant theme throughout the play. These escapes are linked with the symbolic "fire escape" as well as the absent Mr. Wingfield. Mr. Wingfield left his family for a life on the road. "He worked for the telephone company and fell in love with long distances." This action left Tom with all of the responsibilities in the family including taking care of his half-mad, overbearing mother, Amanda and a disabled sister, Laura.

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