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The Fantasy World of The Glass Menagerie
In The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams creates a world in which
the characters are disillusioned by the present. Amanda, Tom, and Laura
achieve this disillusionment by resorting to separate worlds where they can
find sanctuary. Each character develops their own world, far away from
Amanda frees herself from the harsh realities of life by constantly
reminding herself of the past. To begin with, she continuously repeats the
story of the "one Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain" when she received
seventeen gentlemen callers (1195). Furthermore, she keeps a "larger-than-
life-size" photograph of her husband over the mantel who left the family
when the children were young. When Jim came over for dinner, Amanda wears
the "girlish frock of yellowed voile with a blue silk sash" that she wore
on the day she met her husband (1222). Amanda obsesses with the past, and
at the same time damaging the children psychologically.
Constant allusions to the past have psychologically
affected Tom and Laura, trapping them into Amanda$BCT(J lost world. Tom
and Laura fail to survive in the present because they are always trying to
live through the past. However, the past no longer exists, causing them
distress in their journey through life. Tom is unsuccessful with his job
at the warehouse and Laura cannot seem to fit in with the outside world.
These personal downfalls in life drive Tom into a life of poetry and movies,
and Laura into a world of glass figurines.
Tom is unsatisfied with his work at the warehouse and feels his
life lacks adventure. Therefore, he finds it through writing poetry and
watching movies. When business is slow at the shoe warehouse, Tom goes to
the washroom to work on his poetry. Tom finds adventure in poetry because
he is able to create and control his own world. Along with poetry, Tom
retreats to the movies every evening to fulfill his adventurous nature.
Amanda questions Tom, "why do you go to the movies so much, Tom?" Tom
replies, "I go to the movies because$BM*(J like adventure. Adventure is
something I don$BCU(J have much of at work, so I go to the movies"(1210).
Tom$BCT(J obsessions with adventure leaves him no time or energy to
concentrate on his present responsibilities at work. Therefore, he leaves
Amanda and Laura for the Merchant Marines, a place where he can live out
his dreams for adventure. However, he cannot forget Laura, "I tried to
leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be!"(1247).
Laura's problem, according to Jim, is her "inferiority complex"
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(1237). However, she finds confidence in the old records she plays on the
victrola and in her glass menagerie. Laura enjoys listening to old
phonograph records that used to be her father$BCT(J and she retreats to
the victrola every time she experiences a problem. For example, she
resorts to the victrola when Amanda finds out she has not been attending
business school. In addition, when Jim informs Laura that he is engaged,
she retreats to the victrola again. Having nothing to do at home, Laura
takes care of her glass ornaments. Taking care of the glass figurines give
her a sense of control$BMT(Jomething she has never experienced in her
life. She can manipulate the glass figurines any way she desires, thereby
fulfilling her "inferiority complex"(1237). However, her dependency on Tom
and Amanda, leave her tragically unfit to survive in this brutal world.
Being unaware of the present, Amanda, Tom, and Laura, live in
worlds far from reality. Amanda dwells in her past, a past filled with
popularity and success. Tom retreats to his poetry and movies to
experience adventure he cannot find in his ordinary life. Laura finds
confidence playing old records on the victrola and controlling her glass
collection. All these simulated worlds that the characters retreat to,
leave them unprotected from the reality of the world. Being unprepared,
Amanda, Tom, and Laura are tragically lost in their own dream worlds, far
away from the present.