The Fantasy World of The Glass Menagerie

The Fantasy World of The Glass Menagerie

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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.

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