Symbols In Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie

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Memories seldom show reality as it occurs; instead, they exaggerate and emphasize the feelings of the event and forget the rest. [PP3] In Tennessee Williams’s “The Glass Menagerie,” the memories of Tom Wingfield are layered with symbols of how he wishes to be free from his current life and the slow realization that he will never truly be free from his ties to the very household that drug him down. The prime examples of the symbolism shown in this memory play are Tom’s trips to the movies, Jim as a character, and the extinguishing of the candles. Possibly the most recurring symbol to the story is the movies Tom retreats to at the end of the day. Tom has a strong desire to follow his father’s footsteps and leave his unsatisfying life behind,…show more content…
Part of Tom’s desire to leave is this treatment at the hands of his mother. In the beginning of the play, he loses his appetite because of his mother’s “constant directions of how to eat it” (923), and at one point she said that, in reference to books that she took from Tom, she “took that horrible novel back to the library,” (931) and that she “won’t allow such filth brought into [her] house!” (931). Part of Tom’s desire to leave is this treatment at the hands of his mother; another part is his job, and how monotonous and stagnant it is at the workshop. [PP2] Together, they leave Tom feeling trapped in his lifestyle of struggling through the days. He mentions to seeing a magician show at the movies, which sums up his feelings of…show more content…
His mother frequently mentions how he cannot quit the job he despises because he is making the money for the house. She also laments about Lauren does not have heaps of “gentlemen callers” throughout the story. Amanda enlists Tom to search for men at his work that would be nice and suitable suitors for Laura. Tom, in response, invites Jim over. Jim was the high school crush of Laura, and he was excellent in many high school things- basketball, singing, and debate. It sounds like a perfect fit, and it was meant to. While Tom of the future is narrating in the very beginning of the play, he outright claims that Jim is a symbol of “the long-delayed but always expected something that we live for” (922). [PP4] Jim is the way Tom can leave, a way to get Amanda to stop hounding about gentlemen callers, and a way to get Laura away from her bleak, husbandless future. Jim was the key to the happiness of the Wingfields. HE talks with Laura and gets her out of her shell, and it all seems so perfect. Life, however, is not perfect. Jim was going out and even engaged to another woman, and he could not be the Wingfield’s saving grace. Amanda was angry at Tom, saying, “what a wonderful joke you played on us” (970) in a tone that could be nothing other than drenched in outraged sarcasm. She blames the horrible ending of the night on Tom and his lack of knowledge of Jim’s romantic life. This outrages Tom in turn, and he
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