Dreams and Escape in The Glass Menagerie
None of the characters in The Glass Menagerie is capable of living in the present. Everyday life is so oppressive that each character, through their dreams, retreats into a fantasy world. This essay will examine the reality faced by Amanda, Tom, Laura and Jim and probe how, through their dreams, each character attempts to transcend reality.
Amanda, having "lost" her husband and having to take care of her two children, namely Tom and Laura, who, in her eyes, are equally lost in their lives, leads a hard life. Having a son whom she considers unrealistic, daydreaming about becoming a recognized poet rather than staying committed to his present job, Amanda is not only overwhelmingly confused, but also perplexed about the future, of her children's and of her own. Worse still, the fact that Laura is crippled, which she refuses to acknowledge however, worries her even more, insofar as she tries to arrange everything for her lest she will live paralyzed in the threatening world. Aware of the reality, she enrolls her in a secretarial course in the hope that she would become, if not successful in her career, at least independent in making ends meet. Disappointed by Laura's inability to cope with the studies in the business school, Amanda cannot but desperately find her a reliable husband who can provide material and emotional security. But her flattering hope is unrealistic. Not even having met Jim, the gentleman caller Tom brings home at her mother's request, Amanda, looking at the little, slipper-shaped moon, asks Laura to make a wish on it for happiness and good fortune to be brought by this gentleman caller, when it is just wishful thinking on her part inasmuch as Laura, in fact, just prefers being "immured" in home, alone.
Equally unrealistic is her abrupt reversion to her past when the gentleman caller is about to arrive, when the dream of a promising future seems about to be realized. On this occasion, she is dressed in the same girlish frock she wore on the day she met the children's father, attempting to conceal her shabby present and recapture part of the elegance she associates with her giddy days of entertaining many gentleman callers.
Bewildered by her immediate surroundings and unable to cope with the social and economic reality of the Depression days, Amanda is often obsessed with her past as the genteel southern belle dominated by refined social gatherings and elegant living conditions, reminiscing about her own experiences with men in Blue Mountain:
"One Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain - your mother received - seventeen! - gentleman callers!..." (Williams 16). Attempting to materialize her southern belle past, she even makes constant insistence on Laura's having gentleman callers.
Tom, though not physically crippled as his sister Laura, finds himself "paralyzed" in the warehouse in which he works. Faced with the bleak aspects, and...