Escape from Reality in The Glass Menagerie

Escape from Reality in The Glass Menagerie

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Escape From Reality

In Tennessee Williams' play, The Glass Menagerie, each character attempt to escape the real world by creating his or her own "reality." The play involves three main characters each of whom feels trapped and imagines different ways of escape.

One of the main characters, Tom Wingfield, is trapped in the apartment where he lives with his nagging mother. Williams describes the apartment as "One of those vast hive-like conglomerations of cellular living units that flower as warty growths....and are symptomatic of the impulse of the largest and fundamently enslaved section of American society" (s.d.1). Tom wants nothing more to escape from his real life and seek adventure. Tom is also stuck in his dead-end job at a shoe warehouse. For sixty-five dollars a month he goes to work and give up all that he dreams of doing, such as traveling and pursuing a career in writing.

Amanda Wingfield, who is Tom's mother, focuses almost exclusively on the past--when she saw herself as a desirable Southern Belle. Amanda is trapped in a world that is filled with loneliness and no more gentlemen callers. She imagines herself in her past life to escape her life in the present.

Laura Wingfield, Tom's sister, hides from the world by magnifying her illness. In her own secure world, Laura sees herself as crippled. She stays in their apartment and her only way of escape is through her collection of glass figurines. Laura keeps herself safe and marks the fire escape as a border that crosses danger.

In the play, there are many symbols that interpret different ways of escaping for different characters. One such symbol is the fire escape, in which Tom uses as a way to escape from the apartment. It is a way of being able to slide out the back door to seek adventure in his life. The dance hall across the street can be seen as a form of escape also. Its name Paradise Hall is a contrast to the lives of the characters, and to the current situation in the world as seen in the play. Tom speake of the coffin trick, "We nailed him into a coffin and he gotr out of the coffin without removing one nail" (sc.4sp.8).

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Here he envisions himself escaping his life without hurting his mother or Laura. One of the most important symbols is the apartment itself. The apartment is locates in an alley way at a deadend. There really is no way out through a dead end.

Through the play one can see how the characters are all trapped in a certain little worlds of their own and how they envision many ways of escape. It may not be physically walking out of the apartment, but they can settle themselves in different ways.

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