Dreams and Escape in The Glass Menagerie
The dream of escape is the focal point in the play, The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams. Although each character wants to escape from a different reality, they all feel the need to get away. The father is the most successful in his escape - he leaves the family and doesn't look back. Laura, Amanda, Tom, and Jim, are not as fortunate, they seem to be stuck throughout the play. Jim seems to be the only one with a real chance at breaking away from his reality. Tom seems to breaks free, but we discover that his escape attempt fails because he can't forget Laura.
Throughout the play, each person escapes their reality in some way and is somewhat successful at it. Whether through dreams or actually walking away, everyone manages to break free. Tom is, by far, the biggest dreamer. Tom dreams of leaving the "...over crowded urban centers of lower middle-class population" (Williams 1267). Tom envies his father who actually had the guts to walk out. Tom expresses this when he tells Amanda, "...Mother, I'd be where [the father] is!" (Williams 1277). Tom wants to leave so desperately that he "...paid [his Merchant Marine] dues this month, instead of the light bill" (Williams 1295). Tom would rather think of himself and let his mother and sister sit in the dark, alone, than take responsibility for his family. Tom says he is "...tired of the movies" (Williams 1294) meaning that he is ready for his own adventures. He "...[retires] to a cabinet of the washroom to work on poems when business [is] slack in the warehouse" (Williams 1289) By doing this, Tom is looking for yet another escape from the reality of working at a job he hates.
Tom also loathes his mother in some way. This is most evident when Tom calls Amanda an "...ugly -babbling old- witch..." (Williams 1278). When Tom does finally escape his realities they continue to haunt him. Every time Tom sees "...a piece of transparent glass..." (Williams 1310), or hears "...a familiar bit of music" (Williams 1310) he is reminded of Laura. So in the end, Tom isn't successful at escaping his realities. It is in the actual escape that he fails the most because he can't forget Laura.
Amanda and Laura are the most pitiful characters in the play. Their methods of escape consist of what goes on inside their heads. Laura escapes through her menagerie. "[Laura's] glass collection takes up a good deal of [her] time" (Williams 1303). Laura is so engrossed with taking care of her glass collection that she forgets to live her life. Laura also hides behind her disability. She even admits that the brace on her leg "...sort of -stood between [her]-[and making friends]" (Williams 1301). Laura never tries to do anything but live in a reality where she is afraid of everything. Amanda however isn't afraid of anything except not being taken care of. Amanda also lives in a make-believe reality. In Amanda's mind she is...