The Menagerie’s Symbolism
“The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams is a play that exposes the very definition of symbolism. Symbolism is the practice of representing things by symbols, or of investing things with a symbolic meaning or character. Williams used the dance hall, movies, and cigarettes to symbolize Tom’s (a main character in “The Glass Menagerie”) wish for a life of adventure. These places and things symbolize very different things about Tom that all lead to the conclusion of him dreaming for an eventful life.
The Dance Hall near their house is described by Tom as “compensation for lives that passed like mine, without any change or adventure.”This is his way of expressing his longing for a life of happenings. He wants and wishes for the very life he has sacrificed to stay home and care for his crippled sister and overly-hospitable mother.
Movies and the theater symbolize Tom’s wish for adventure in quite different way. He uses the movies as his escape from the world, life, and his circumstances. To his friend, Jim, from the ware house where he works, Tom says, “All of those glamorous people-having adventures-hogging it all, gobbling the whole thing up…Hollywood characters are supposed to have all the adventures for everybody in America…until there’s a war.
That’s when adventure becomes available to the masses…But I’m not patient. I don’t want to wait till then. I’m tired of the movies and I am about to move!” This incontestably demonstrates how much Tom Wigfeild desires a life of adventure and excitement.
Tom also smokes cigarettes. This is indeed a nasty dependence but, not in a symbolic view. The way Williams has