In Tennessee Williams' play, The Glass Menagerie, Amanda, Laura, and Tom have chosen to avoid reality. Amanda continually attempts to live in the past. Laura's escape from the real world is her glass collection and old phonograph records. Tom hides from the real world by going to the movies and getting drunk. Each character retreats to their separate world to escape the cruelties of life.
Living in the past is Amanda’s way of escaping her pitiful present reality (Knorr). She never forgets to tell Laura and Tom about her receiving seventeen gentlemen callers in Blue Mountain when she was young: "One Sunday afternoon-your mother received-seventeen!-gentlemen callers! Why, sometimes there weren't enough chairs enough to accommodate them all" (Williams 26). She talks about how all her admirers turned out and even though many became successful and could have been better choices, she had chosen their father. It seems that she wants her children to know that she was different before her husband left her. She wants them to know that she was a "catch". The truth remains that she had been economically dependent on her husband. Since her husband left her, her dependency transfers to her son Tom.
She not only transferred her dependency to her son and her hopes for a gentleman caller to her daughter, but also her need of the past and her memories of the past. To Amanda, the past stands for the carefree life she led in Blue Mountain. This affects Tom and Laura greatly. Tom despises this situation and can't stand being at home. He goes to the movies and writes poetry to escape his home life and his disheartening job at the shoe factory. He believes that his home life and job affect his ...
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...t forget her. "Ironically, though the rainbows seemed to be positive signs, they all end in disappointment"(Knorr).
Even though Tom tries to escape his past, it remains with him for he is the one who tells the story of The Glass Menagerie. Though Amanda, Laura, and Jim are not real they are part of Tom's memory which reveals his pain and suffering in his ironic and humorous tone. All of the characters escape their reality that never changes.
Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. Ed. James Laughlin. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1970.
King, Thomas L. "Irony and Distance in The Glass Menagerie." In Modern Critical Views: Tennessee Williams. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987, 85-94.
Knorr. Home page. http://www.susqu.edu/ac_depts/arts_sci/english/lharris/class/WILLIAMS/psy.htm
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