The Theme of Escape in The Glass Menagerie
In Tennessee Williams' play, The Glass Menagerie, Amanda, Laura, and Tom have chosen to avoid reality. Amanda continually attempts to live in the past. Laura's escape from the real world is her glass collection and old phonograph records. Tom hides from the real world by going to the movies and getting drunk. Each character retreats to their separate world to escape the cruelties of life.
Living in the past is Amanda’s way of escaping her pitiful present reality (Knorr). She never forgets to tell Laura and Tom about her receiving seventeen gentlemen callers in Blue Mountain when she was young: "One Sunday afternoon-your mother received-seventeen!-gentlemen callers! Why, sometimes there weren't enough chairs enough to accommodate them all" (Williams 26). She talks about how all her admirers turned out and even though many became successful and could have been better choices, she had chosen their father. It seems that she wants her children to know that she was different before her husband left her. She wants them to know that she was a "catch". The truth remains that she had been economically dependent on her husband. Since her husband left her, her dependency transfers to her son Tom.
She not only transferred her dependency to her son and her hopes for a gentleman caller to her daughter, but also her need of the past and her memories of the past. To Amanda, the past stands for the carefree life she led in Blue Mountain. This affects Tom and Laura greatly. Tom despises this situation and can't stand being at home. He goes to the movies and writes poetry to escape his home life and his disheartening job at the shoe factory. He believes that his home life and job affect his creativity.
A consequence of the past and that Amanda's husband left her causes her to nag Tom. She never stops criticizing Tom about his job or his frequent trips to the movies: "I don't believe that you go every night to the movies. Nobody goes to the movies night after night. Nobody in their right minds goes to the movies as often as you pretend to" (Williams 41). This shows Amanda's fear that someday Tom might leave her and Laura. Amanda tells Tom how to do the simplest things such as how to eat his food, which irritates him: "I haven't enjoyed one bite of this dinner because of your constant directions on how to eat it. It's you that make me rush through meals with your hawk-like attention to every bite I take" (Williams 24). All of these things make Tom's home life unpleasant.
Though Amanda may seem cruel at times, she really wants what's best for her children. She constantly nags Laura on looking nice for when the gentlemen callers arrive: "Stay fresh and pretty!-It's almost time for our gentlemen callers to start arriving" (William 28). When Amanda says "our" gentlemen callers, including herself in the wait, she has returned to her days in Blue Mountain. Laura tells her mother that she doesn't think...