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The Glass Menagerie – Analytical Essay

Josh Russell

In the play, The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, the symbolic connotations of the
fire escape play a significant role. They represent the "bridge" between the illusory world of
the Wingfields and the world of reality. This "bridge" seems to be a one way excursion, 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 a world of new dimensions. Amanda perceives the
fire escape as a way for gentlemen callers to enter their lives. For Laura, the fire escape is a
way into her own world. A way to escape from reality. She is also trying to escape her own
vacant life. Williams utilizes the fire escape as a literal exit from his own reality as well. His
way of escaping is through the play. In Tom's opening speech, he says, "I give you truth in
the pleasant disguise of illusion." This quote refers to Williams' own life told through the
play. Everyone in the play seeks haven from their lives, attempting to escape into an
imaginary fallacy world. In “The Glass Menagerie” Williams' fire escape portrays each of the
character's need to use the fire escape as a literal exit from their own reality.
The Glass Menagerie is set in the apartment of the Wingfield family. By description, it is
a cramped place located in the city of St. Louis. It is one of many apartments in the
neighbourhood. Of the Wingfield family members, none like living in the apartment. The only
reason that traps them in their submissive dwelling is poverty. The concept of escaping their
own lives and retreating into an illusion world has entered each of the character's
minds. Escaping from their lifestyle, their apartment, and their relationships, is a significant
theme throughout the play. These escapes are linked with the symbolic "fire escape" as well
as the absent Mr. Wingfield, who left his family for a life on the road. "He worked for the
telephone company and fell in love with long distances." This action left Tom with all of the
responsibilities in the family. With all of the responsibilities on Tom's shoulders he is forced to
take a job at a warehouse in order to take care of the family and pay rent. Tom is unsatisfied
with his life and is always seeking for a way to escape his misery. In Tom's eyes, the fire
escape serves as a transit between "truth" and "illusion." It detaches reality of the outside
world, which in this case, the city of St. Louis, from the world of the Wingfields. Tom's way of
dealing with his misery is to remove himself from his locale and go to the movies. He claims
that he loves the adventure. "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"
Amanda seeks for an escape from her own empty life. She once had high hopes of
marrying a wealthy man, but instead she settled for a telephone man who eventually
abandons her and the kids. This incident made Amanda live her life in bitterness and
paranoia. "The future becomes the present, the present the past, and the past turns into
everlasting regret if you don't plan for it". Amanda repeatedly lectures and corrects her
children on how to present themselves, how to live life, and how to act. She tries to take
control of her children's lives as if she is trying to fit them in a mould of perfection. "Try and
you will SUCCEED! Why, you - you're just full of natural endowments! Both of my children they're unusual children! Don't you think I know it? I'm so proud! Happy and - I feel I've - so
much to be thankful for" Amanda has two fears in her life. One of her worst fears is having
Tom grow up to be his father. "Promise, son, you'll - never be a drunkard!", "When I see you
taking after his ways! Staying out late - and - well, you had been drinking the night you were
in that - terrifying condition". Amanda's other fear in life is having Laura grow old without a
husband. "We have to be making plans and provisions for her. She just drifts along doing
nothing. It frightens me terribly how she just drifts along". Tom suggested to Amanda that
Laura just might be what people call home girls but Amanda refuses to believe it. "There's no
such type, and if there is, it's a pity! That is unless the home is hers, with a husband"
Therefore, Amanda sees the fire escape as a way to escape her own problems and invite
gentlemen callers into their lives for Laura.
Laura has issues of her own and she also finds the need to escape them. Laura leads a
life of simplicity and has a difficult time dealing with the outside world. "I put her in Business
College - a dismal failure! Frightened her so it made her sick to her stomach. I took her over

The use of the fire escape altered for each character depending on their own issues. Williams' fire escape portrayed each of the character's need to utilize the fire escape as a literal exit from their own reality. Laura sees the fire escape as a literal exit from her reality. escape is hiding inside the apartment. Williams' fire escape represents the "bridge" between truth and illusion. The fire escape sets apart the unfamiliar world outside of her shielded life. revolve around the fire escape. Another fiasco.to the Young People's League at the church. entering into a fantasy world. Everyone in the play searches for a refuge from their lives. For her. "The Glass Menagerie" exhibits an array of symbolism. . In many ways the plot. and the motives of the Wingfield’s. her way of escaping differs from that of her mother and brother's. Even though. nobody spoke to her". She spoke to nobody.