The Glass Menagerie
In The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams uses the theme of escape to propel the play. Characters all have their own means to escape there lackluster life. The fire escape is a motif that symbolizes the escape the at all the characters have. It symbolizes how Tom always leaves through the fire escape to go out on the town and how Amanda hopes that a gentlemen caller will come up it for Laura. Lauras escape is not to go anywhere and stay with her glass menagerie collection because she has many self esteem issues so she stays indoors and to herself. Jim uses his high school past as a means of escape. Amanda uses her past memories of her glory days to escape the monotony of everyday life. Tom goes out every night to the movies and gets drunk so escape his nagging mother. Mr. Winfield who fell in love with long distances, (Williams 1) left the family left them a long time ago. In The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, each person in the play escapes their present lackluster reality through a different medium.
Laura is a very introverted person. She stays to herself and doesnt say much. Even when her mother paid for her to take computer classes at a local college, she couldnt do it because she broke down completely when the class took there first speed typing test. She also became sick when her gentleman caller, Tom, came to the house. Her glass figurines are sort of her private world where shes always safe; its her dream world. Once she finds out that Jims engaged she reverts back to her menagerie collection and her old phonograph where she feels safe because she cant cope with reality.
When Jim enters the play, he automatically reverts back to his glorious high school days when he was at the top of his game. Once Laura and him start to warm up to each other, he reminisce about his high school days and his lead in school play, the Pirates of Penzance (Williams 7). When Laura asks him to sign her program, because she never got the courage to ask him back then, He signs it with a flourish (Williams 7). When Jim ends up kissing Laura while they are dancing, he flickers back to his old days of wooing women but realizes that hes engaged and tells Laura to stay true to herself. His fantasy world is only temporary because he was engulfed in the fantasy world of the Wingfields.
Amanda and Jim both rely on there past to escape from there present life. Amanda goes on and on about how gentlemen callers uses to line up just to meet her. She never ceases to tell her children that she had seventeen callers at once which could be an exaggeration. Her main goal is to get Amanda a gentlemen caller. She wont face the reality that Amanda is crippled even though she wears a cast. Amanda doesn't perceive anything realistically. When Jim arrives, Amanda is dressed in a girly dress which shows the reader that shes having a flashback of her days when she was Amandas age. She even acts all girlish and giddy around Jim. She uses her happy past to deal with the reality that she hasnt even begun to face.
Tom uses many different means of escape. Whenever his mother is irritating him, he says hes going out to the movies and stays out all night. He starts to stay out later and later and he starts to drink and smoke more cigarettes. Through Jim, it is revealed that Tom enjoys writing poetry which is also a way he escapes his reality. Tom brought a membership to the Union of Merchant Seamen instead of paying the electricity bill and like his father, he plans on leaving. In retrospect after his memory ends, Tom says that leaving didnt satisfy what he needed to be satisfied. He would always find something that reminded him of Laura. He says he tried to leave [her] behind (Williams 7) but he became to faithful to her and whenever he would think of Laura or his past he would run into the movies or a bar (Williams 7) and buy a drink to try to blow [her] candles out (Williams 7).
In conclusion, In The Glass Menagerie, each person in the play escapes there present lackluster reality through a different medium. In the end of the story, none of the characters achieve what they wanted. They all ran from their problems and, like moths a build a cocoon, built up layers of lies that they told themselves. Williams might be eluding that maybe as a society we run from our problems instead of dealing and resolving them.