Tom Wingfield is the narrator and a major character in Tennessee William’s timeless play, The Glass Menagerie. Through the eyes of Tom, the viewer gets a glance into the life of his family in the pre-war depression era; his mother, a Southern belle desperately clinging to the past; his sister, a woman too fragile to function in society; and himself, a struggling, young poet working at a warehouse to pay the bills. Williams has managed to create a momentous play using a combination of different elements, including symbolism. Three noteworthy examples of symbolism are the fire escape, a sense of hope and an escape both to the outside world and from it; the glass menagerie itself, a symbol for Laura’s fragility and uniqueness; and rainbows, symbols of unrealized hopes and aspirations. Through the use of these symbols, a greater understanding of the humanistic theme that unfulfilled hopes and desires are an unwanted, but important aspect of the real world is achieved, and The Glass Menagerie is crafted into a meaningful classic drama.
Symbols are a major part of this play that Tom, who is a poet, admits he has a weakness for. One of the first to be presented in the story is the fire escape that ...
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Bigsby, C. W. E. “Entering the Glass Menagerie.” The Cambridge Companion to Tennessee Williams, ed. Matthew C. Roudane. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Scheye, Thomas E. “The Glass Menagerie: ‘It’s not tragedy, Freckles.’.” Tennessee Williams: A Tribute, ed. Jac Tharpe. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1977.
Williams, Tennessee. Conversations with Tennessee Williams, ed. Albert Devlin. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1986.
Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. New York: New Directions Publishing, 1945.
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