The Theme of Escape in The Glass Menagerie
The Glass Menagerie, a play by Tennessee Williams, is set in the apartment of the Wingfield family, housing Amanda Wingfield and her two children Tom and Laura. The father left many years ago, and is only represented by a picture on the living-room wall. The small, dingy apartment creates a desperate, monotonous feeling in the reader. None of the Wingfields has any desire to stay in the apartment, but their lack of finances makes it impossible to move. Escape from this monotonous and desperate life is the main theme throughout the play.
The different characters in 'The Glass Menagerie' have their own individual ways of escaping from their realities. Tom Wingfield, the main character and narrator, probably has the one that most clearly relates to what we usually call escaping. His dream is to get away from the entire place in which he is currently living. He is tired of supplying his mother and sister without getting anything but remorse in return. Early in the play we can see this urge to get away through his frequent visits to the movie theatre. To him the movies serve as windows into another world, an exiting world filled with fun and challenges. Another thing that it is worth mentioning when speaking about this is Amanda's attitude towards the movies. She thinks that he spends too much time on the movies, and she keeps haunting him for it. I believe that this is supposed to tell the reader that Amanda has some kind of feeling that Tom sometime will follow in his fathers footsteps, and that she is trying to prevent this from happening. For Amanda this is a very natural reaction; with Tom out of the apartment there would be nothing left for her and her daughter to feed from.
However, as time goes by the realities of life is getting closer and closer on Tom, and it's getting increasingly difficult to escape. He tries, for example through drinking, but it's clear that the moment where the only possible escape is the drastic option of actually leaving his current way of life. But when he actually goes through with this, after being pushed over the edge by Amanda, it turns out to be nothing like he had expected it to be. Instead of starting a new life on his own he is haunted with guilt from abandoning his sister.
Laura's escape is a bit subtler. She does not want to do anything drastic to change her life. In fact, it seems that all she wants is to keep inside her own world, without having to deal with the decisions and demands of the real world. This can be seen through her attempt to attend Business College, in which she fails quite dramatically when her skills are to be tested. This leads to her quitting school, but without telling her mother. From this we can see that Laura is extremely afraid of confrontations and situations where somebody is expecting something from her. This makes her spend most her time inside, playing about with her...