Escaping Reality In The Glass Menagerie By Tennessee Williams

Submitted By mattiacono
Words: 1281
Pages: 6

Escaping Reality In life, many challenges must be faced. However sometimes, rather than confronting challenges, people see creating an escape to avoid reality as the simpler solution. In The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams shows how a person is capable of creating an escape to avoid facing something in their lives, in most cases, reality. Symbolism extends throughout the play and helps bring out and develop the theme of how escapes are created to avoid reality.

Through symbolism, William is able to emphasize how one will create an escape to avoid facing reality. In The Glass Menagerie, Tom Wingfield is unhappy with his life as his primary role is to work and provide for his family. Tom creates many escapes to avoid the reality of the miserable life he lives. One example of symbolism used is the fire escape. Tom uses the fire escape frequently throughout the play to escape his responsibilities and to enter a deceptive realm where he is free of this burden. An example of this can be seen when, in Scene One, the family is having dinner and Amanda is criticizing the way Tom is eating. Tom gets frustrated and decides to go onto the fire escape to smoke. This is clear when Williams writes “Tom rises and walks toward the living room.” (Williams 7). Clearly Tom’s first choice of action is to avoid reality and to escape. Rather than continuing to deal with his mother Amanda, Tom decides to get up and leave. Another example of symbolism used in The Glass Menagerie is the movies. When Tom decides to leave the apartment, he often goes to the movies. This can be seen when tom says “I go to the movies because–I like adventure. Adventure is something I don't have much of at work, so I go to the movies.” (Williams 33). It is obvious that Tom is miserable living in the apartment and working at the warehouse which are free of adventure. Therefore he uses the movies as an escape from his unhappy life and is able to achieve happiness. Rather than facing the reality of the uninteresting life he lives, he makes the movies his escape. Lastly, Williams uses alcohol as a symbol of escaping reality. Tom also often gets drunk to escape his complications. This is noticeable when Amanda says “you had been drinking the night you were in that - terrifying condition! Laura says that you hate the apartment and that you go out nights to get away from it...” (Williams 32). As the quote indicates, Tom is unhappy with his life; his job, his apartment, and his mother and sister. Tom uses alcohol throughout the play as an escape from the reality of his life. Thus, by using these examples of symbolism, Williams is able to prove how one will create an escape to avoid facing reality.

Another character in The Glass Menagerie that creates escapes to avoid reality is Tom’s mother Amanda. Amanda creates escapes to because she too has difficulty accepting many things in her life, such as her how her son’s job isn’t very noble, how her daughter is awkward and most evidently how she sees the way she, herself, looks. The first symbol of escape Williams uses in the play for Amanda is the way she dresses. Amanda wears clothes that don’t suit her age because she is unable to accept the fact that the clothes she used to wear belong in the past. Amanda wears a dress from her youth to impress Jim. The way she is dressed is described in detail followed by Williams writing “…the legend of her youth is nearly revived.” (Williams 53). She wants to make it seem as if she is young and she does so by changing her appearance. It is obvious that Amanda is unable to accept her age so she uses the clothes she wears to “disguise” herself into looking young. Another example of symbol which represents escape for Amanda is the gentlemen callers. It is clear that Amanda is “spelling out” what life is like for unmarried women throughout her description:
I know so well what becomes of unmarried women who aren't prepared to position. I've seen such pitiful cases in the South­­­–barely