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The Glass Menagerie Essay, Research Paper

Worlds of Escape

In The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams creates a world in which the characters escape from the present situation. The characters, Laura, Amanda, and Tom Wingfield, achieve this by creating their own world in which they can escape to. Each world consists of an imaginary place where the feeling of security is present. These worlds are far away from reality.

Laura s world consists of her glass collection and her victrola. According to Jim O Conner, Laura s problem is she has an Inferiority complex. (993) When a dilemma occurs, she retreats to her victrola and plays the old records that belonged to her father. This allows her to feel safe and secure. One example of this, is the time Amanda discovers that Laura has not been attending Rubicam s Business College. When Amanda confronts Laura about this, Laura Crosses to the victrola and winds it up. (962) Another example happens after Jim tells Laura that he is engaged. When he is finished speaking, Laura winds up the victrola again. Laura feels the comfort she desires by playing her father s records. Since Laura does not have anything to do at home, she takes care of her glass ornaments. On one occasion, Tom accidentally bumps the table the glass ornaments are sitting on. This causes Laura to shriek, My glass! menagerie… (966) Taking care of her glass ornaments give her a sense of control. This is something she has never experienced in her life. She fulfills her Inferiority complex by being able to manipulate the glass ornaments any way she desires. Tragically, Laura will never be fit to survive in the modern world without Amanda or Tom.

Amanda s world consists of the past. She escapes to the past to get away from the ruthless realities of life. She achieves this by continuously repeating the story of One Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain when she received seventeen gentlemen callers. (958) In addition to this, she keeps a Larger than life size photograph of her husband that abandoned the family when the children were young. (957) Before Jim came over, Amanda put on the Girlish frock of yellowed voile with a blue sash. (980) This is the same dress she was wearing the day she met her husband. Amanda damages her children psychologically by constantly living in the past.

Due to the lack of adventure and control, Tom creates his own world of escape. He is unsatisfied with his job at the shoe warehouse. He goes to the washroom, at the warehouse, to write poetry when business is slow. Therefore, he finds adventure through watching movies and writing poetry. He is able to create and control his world through writing poetry. In addition to poetry, he fulfills the infatuation he has for adventure by going to the movies every night. Amanda questions Tom, Why do you go to the movies so much? Tom replies, I go to the movies because I like adventure. Adventure is something I don t get much of at work, so I go to the movies. (970) Since Tom does not get much adventure he eventually leaves his family for the Merchant Marines. Joining the Merchant Marines will allow him to live out his dreams and adventures. On the other hand, he can not forget Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be! (1001)

Laura, Amanda, and Tom live in worlds far away from reality by being ignorant to the present. Laura finds strength in playing the victrola and in her glass menagerie. Amanda lives in the world of her popularity of the past. Tom feels his life is dull and lacks adventure, so he resorts to his poetry and the movies. The shield of protection from the imaginary world that the characters live in leave them unprotected from the modern world of reality. Perhaps, Tennessee Williams is trying to send a message that running away from reality is not the way to solve the problems of life.


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