The Glass Menagerie

The play The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, Williams uses
many symbols which represent many different things. Many of the symbols
used in the play try to symbolize some form of escape or difference
between reality and illusion.

Thefirst symbol, presented in thefirst scene, is the fire escape.
This represents the “bridge” between the illusory world of the
Wingfields and the world of reality. This “bridge” seems to be a one way passage.
But the direction varies for each character. For Tom, the fire escape is
the way out of the world of Amanda and Laura and an entrance into the
world of reality. For Laura, the fire escape is a way into her world. A way to
escape from reality. Both examples can readily be seen: Tom will stand
outside on the fire escape to smoke, showing that he does not like to be
inside, to be a part of the illusionary world. Laura, on the other hand,
thinks of the fire escape as a way in and not a way out. This can be
seen when Amanda sends Laura to go to the store: Laura trips on the fire
escape. This also shows that Laura’s fears and emotions greatly affect
her physical condition, more so than normal people.

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Another symbol presented deals more with Tom than any of the other
characters: Tom’s habit of going to the movies shows us his longing to
leave the apartment and head out into the world of reality. A place
where one can find adventure. And Tom, being a poet, can understand the needs
of man to long for adventure and romance. But he is kept from entering
reality by Amanda, who criticizes him as being a “selfish dreamer.” But,
Tom has made steps to escape into reality by transferring the payment of
a light bill to pay for his dues in the Merchant Seaman’s Union.

Another symbol, which deals with both Amanda and Laura, is Jim
O’Connor. To Laura, Jim represents the one thing she fears and does not
want to face, reality. Jim is a perfect example of “t…


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