Essay On Escape In The Glass Menagerie

1042 words - 4 pages

Escape in The Glass Menagerie

In Tennessee Williams' play, The Glass Menagerie, none of the characters are capable of living in the real world. Laura, Amanda, Tom and Jim use various methods to escape the brutalities of life. Laura retreats into a world of glass animals and old gramophone records. Amanda is obsessed with living in her past. Tom escapes into his world of poetry writing and movies. Jim also reverts to his past and remembers the days when he was a hero.

Laura retreats into a world of glass animals and old gramophone records. Even when it appears that Laura is finally overcoming her shyness and hypersensitivity with Jim, she instantly reverts back to playing the Victrola once he tells her he's engaged. She is unable to cope with the truth so she goes back to her fantasy world of records and glass figurines. Laura can only live a brief moment in the real.

Amanda is obsessed with her past as she constantly reminds Tom and Laura of that 'one Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain' when she received seventeen gentlemen callers (Williams 32). The reader cannot even be sure that this actually happened. However, it is clear that despite its possible falsity, Amanda has come to believe it. She refuses to acknowledge that her daughter is crippled and refers to her handicap as 'a little defect - hardly noticeable' (Williams 45). Only for brief moments does she ever admit that her daughter is 'crippled' and then she resorts back to denial. She doesn't perceive anything realistically. She believes that this gentleman caller, Jim, is going to be the man to rescue Laura and she hasn't even met him yet. She tells Laura when Laura is nervous about the gentleman caller, 'You couldn't be satisfied with just sitting home', when, in fact, Laura had preferred that (Williams 85). Amanda cannot distinguish reality from illusion. When Jim arrives, Amanda is dressed in the same girlish frock she wore on the day that she met their father and she regresses to her childish, giddy days of entertaining gentlemen callers. Amanda chooses to live in the past.

Tom escapes into his world of poetry writing and movies. He cannot handle his menial job and his unsatisfying home life. He believes that the atmosphere is stifling and damaging to his creative capacities. Finally, when he does leave the Wingfield apartment, he is still trapped by his memories (the past) of Laura. As a result, he is unable to function in the present and wanders aimlessly thinking of his sister.

Jim, though not as severely as the Wingfields, also reverts to his past as he looks through high school yearbooks with Laura and remembers the days when he was a hero. He is also not satisfied with the present - working at the same warehouse as Tom, despite Tom's prediction that he would 'arrive at nothing short of the White House by the time he was thirty' (Williams 83). Tom realises that he 'was valuable to him [Jim] as someone who could remember his former glory' (Williams 84)....

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