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The Glass Menagerie - Discuss the symbolism used in Scene Five.

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Introduction

The Glass Menagerie Discuss the Symbolism used in Scene Five Before I look into the symbolism used in scene five of the Glass Menagerie I have to look at the actual name of the play "The Glass Menagerie". Tennessee Williams has used this choice of title to show how delicate and fragile Laura is in this play. She cares for these glass animals and polishes them with great care, protecting them from dangers that don't necessarily exist in the Wingfield household. This is also how Laura's mother Amanda acts towards her only daughter who is terribly shy, withdrawn from the outside world and also crippled which Amanda chooses to ignore. Williams set this play in a poor quarter of St Louis in the 1930s, a time of great change in more ways than on. In Spain Guernica was bombed by the Germans in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, this created a lot of unrest between governments of the world. There was a lot of uncertainty about everyone's future. Also the 2nd World War was immanent and in everyone's minds. Tennessee Williams use of names to symbolise certain things is done in an interesting and clever way. The Wingfields apartment block is opposite the "Paradise Dance Hall"; the use of the word paradise triggers of lots of thoughts in my mind, one of these is the biblical reference to the Garden of Eden. ...read more.

Middle

Amanda often just daydreams about the past it is almost as if she would rather be living in the past than actually in the present day full of uncertainty and worry. The choice of music is very well selected as when the directions for the music change the "dance-hall music changes to a tango that has a minor and somewhat ominous tone" This represents what is to come in the next chapter, the arrival of the gentleman caller, Jim. He doesn't know what is in store for him, and that he was invited under false pretences by Tom. This change in music also symbolises the change in mood of the whole American population with the uncertainty about the war and life in general. Most people would visit these dance halls as a way of escaping, just as Tom escapes to the movies every night to escape the harsh reality of his life. When Williams was actually writing this play he already knew about the war and the trouble in Spain so keeps including these different types of music to make the audience actually think about the time that the play was set. Tom was just keeping his side of the bargain with his mother though, as soon as he brought back a gentleman caller for Laura, who was working and could provide for his mother and sister he could leave and follow his dreams of becoming a writer. ...read more.

Conclusion

As he always goes to the movies he will have seen how the other half live and want those things for himself and the only way he thinks he will ever get them is if he leaves his mother and sister. The set itself symbolises a lot of different things for instance, the only way into the Wingfields apartment is through the fire escape. Amanda has romantic fantasies and imagines this rusty old fire escape being a "Mississippi" veranda with a swing chair on it, which is so far from the truth it is ridiculous, which emphasises Amanda's resilience to facing the truth in the here and now. For Tom, the fire escape symbolises his desire to leave the apartment and make his way on his own doing what he wants to do and not complying to what his demanding mother wants him to do. He also uses this fire escape every night to escape from the harsh reality of life by going to the movies that seem to be his sanctuary. The symbolism in this memory play exists on many levels not only is it in the dialogue but the visual as in the fire escape, the legends and the music. As Tom is looking back onto his life some aspects are fairly vague but all of the different props and dialogue used help create a more vivid picture of the Wingfield household in the audiences eyes. ...read more.

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