Due to Tom’s father leaving his family for the adventurous life on the road, Tom is in charge of all the responsibilities of the family including his mother, Amanda, and his disabled sister, Laura. To manage these responsibilities, he is forced to take a job at a warehouse in order to pay the bills and rent. In Tom’s eyes, the fire escape serves as a transit between truth and illusion, detaching reality of the outside world from the world of the Wingfields. In the beginning of the play, the description of the fire escape is, “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 destruction” (Williams, 21). Of this fire escape, Tom Wingfield seeks liberation from his private hell by escaping and coping with the misery. He removes himself from his locale and goes to the movies claiming, “I go to the movies because – I like adventure. Adventure is something I don’t have of at work, so I go to the movies...
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...he is sent outside, she dresses in, “a nervous, jerky movement” (Williams, 46) and is hesitant to leave. Throughout the play, Laura’s attempts to get involved with the outside world fail, “I put her in business college – a dismal failure! Frightened her so it made her sick at the stomach. I took her over to the Young People’s League at the church. Another fiasco. She spoke to nobody” (Williams, 53). For her, the fire escape leads into the safe, shielded fantasy life she has conjured up to escape the unfamiliar world and outside life.
In conclusion, Tennessee Williams writes The Glass Menagerie combining poetic and unrealistic techniques to exhibit the fire escape as a bridge between reality and fantasy in the play as a whole. He cleverly alters the use of the fire escape for each character depending on their own to show readers the different meanings of escapism.
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