Last Updated 14 Nov 2022

An Analysis of the Escape from Reality in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

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The escape of the characters from reality in the film "The Glass Menagerie" Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" is centered on a dream of escape. Although everyone wants to run away from a different reality, they all feel the need to escape. The most fortunate in his escape is the father, as he never has to deal with anything at home. He just leaves and doesn't look back. As for the four others: Laura, Amanda, Tom and Jim, they appear to be stuck throughout the play. Jim seems to be the only one who has any real chance of breaking out of his reality. When Tom breaks free, his memories take him back to that place. Everyone escapes from their reality in one or another way and succeeds in it to some extent. Be it through dreams or real escapes, everyone manages to break free. Tom is definitely the biggest dreammer. Tom dreams of leaving the "...over crowded urban centers of lower middle-class population".

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!". Tom wants to leave so desperately that he "...paid [his Merchant Marine] dues this month, instead of the light bill" . 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" 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"

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...". When Tom does finally escape his realities they continue to haunt him. Every time Tom sees “...a piece of transparent glass.....” , or hears "...a familiar bit of music" 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".

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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]". 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 still a girl receiving "gentlemen callers". Even when Laura is to receive a caller, Amanda gets more dressed up than Laura. Amanda even refuses to acknowledge that Laura is crippled".

She illustrates this point by saying "...you're not crippled, you just have a little defect-hardly noticeable, even!". In Amanda's world men are still nice and polite, unlike her son Tom. There are no handicapped children, especially her not her own. Yes, Amanda and Laura live in very strange worlds. They escape their poverty and positions in society by creating their own unique realities. The only problem is that Amanda and Laura never get anywhere with their fake realities and end up in the exact place they tried to get away from. On the other hand, the father and Jim actually have a chance and do escape. The father leaves so early that he is a silent element to the play. He is never seen or heard from but he is the one person who got out. Jim has the potential to get out and be free. He does escape somewhat because he refuses to let his position in life get him down. This is most evident when Jim says, "I am disappointed but I'm not discouraged".

This comment leads the reader to believe that Jim has a fighting chance to succeed. Jim is actually doing something to help him in his quest for an escape. He is "...taking that course and studying public speaking" (1304). This is just one more remark that akes you think that Jim will succeed. Jim and the father were the only people in the story that seemed to have a chance at making it away from home. Each character from Williams' The Glass Menagerie is looking for some unseen escape route. Amanda and Laura use their minds to take them their. Tom uses his dreams and actions to get him to his destination. Jim and the father use their brains and gumption to succeed in finding the path. They all struggle with the hopes and dreams of a people destined to remain in their poverty-stricken lives forever. In the end, the only people who succeed or even have a chance are the people least connected with the Wingfield family. It has to be said that, just like the glass unicorn, this family is transparent, pitiful and broken. They never succeed in anything except dreaming for a better reality that has and will never come.

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