Symbolism in The Glass Menagerie

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Symbolism is an integral part of every play. The author uses symbolism in order to add more depth to the play. In Tennessee Williams’ play, The Glass Menagerie, he describes three separate characters, their dreams, and the harsh realities they face in a modern world. The Glass Menagerie exposes the lost dreams of a southern family and their desperate struggle to escape reality. Everyone in the play seeks refuge from their lives, attempting to escape into an imaginary world. Williams uses the fire escape as a way for the Wingfields, the protagonists of the play, to escape their real life and live an illusionary life. The fire escape portrays each of the character's need to use the fire escape as a literal exit from their own reality. The fire escape is mentioned in the first scene which shows its importance to the play. Williams describes the fire escape as a “structure whose name is a touch of accidental poetic truth for all of these huge buildings are always burning with the slow and implacable fires of human desperation” (Williams 27). This depiction of the fire escape is exactly what it means to the Wingfield family. The fire escape symbolizes a tendency to escape to illusion when reality is not wanted. Of the Wingfield family members, none like living in the apartment. The only reason that they must live in this cramped apartment is because of their poverty. Their apartment does not even have a door which conveys their desire to escape and the way that they are held captive in their own apartment. 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... ... middle of paper ... ...ecords” (Williams 66). It is apparent that Laura is socially disabled and cannot deal with the outside world. The fire escape sets apart the unfamiliar life outside of her shielded life. Wiliam’s use of symbolism in The Glass Menagerie adds a lot of meaning to the play. The fire escape has important meanings for each of the characters. For Tom, the fire escape is the way out of the world of Amanda and Laura, and an entrance into a world of adventure. For Amanda, the fire escape is perceived as a way for gentlemen callers to enter their lives. She is also trying to escape her own vacant life. And for Laura, the fire escape is a way into her own world where nobody else can invade. The fire escape portrays the escape from reality into a world of illusion for each character. Works Cited Williams, Tennessee. "The Glass Menagerie". New York: Random House, 2009.
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