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Theme of Escape in the Glass Menagerie

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Introduction

Discuss how Tennessee Williams portray the theme of Escape is portrayed in 'The Glass Menagerie' Escape is a key theme explored by Williams in 'The Glass Menagerie'. All the characters feel trapped and are incapable of living in the real world. They desire freedom from their current lives in different ways; physically, through dreams, memory or material objects. Mr Wingfield is a central part of the play although not an actual character, making frequent appearances throughout the play, as he is the ultimate symbol of escape. He is the constant reminder that escape can be achieved as he removed himself from the desperate situation and in particular Amanda. The fire escape leads out to a landing from the Wingfield apartment and which in turn reinforces the symbolic portrayal of escape from the household. It is used by Williams to act as a multi-platform symbol, giving a different purpose to each character. He writes, the "huge buildings are always burning with the slow and implacable fires of human desperation." The play then presents Tom's frustrated attempt to escape from his intolerable job, situation, and life. ...read more.

Middle

She believes that Laura has 'a little defect - hardly noticeable' and refuses to believe that her daughter is 'crippled'. She believes that she is still a southern belle as when Jim arrives she is dressed in a 'girlish frock' she wore the day she met their father and regresses to her flirtatious manners when entertaining her gentleman callers. However, unlike Laura and Tom, she doesn't realize that she is escaping reality and consequently, is constantly making efforts to engage with people and the world outside her family. Amanda uses the past as a means to escape the reality that she does not want to face. Similarly, Jim uses his past as a means of escape; immersing himself in memories of high school when he was the 'high school hero'. He only can escape his mundane life at the warehouse when at the Wingfield apartment. This is shown in the scene with Laura, as he woos her, innocently kissing her. However his escape was short as being the most conventional character, Williams shows how Jim is forced back to reality. Unlike the Wingfields, Jim lives only temporarily in the past, and when leaving the apartment he enters reality again leaving the dream world behind. ...read more.

Conclusion

Tom realizes that the escape that his father promised him was not the true escape he wanted, and without even being present, his Father had let him down once again. Unlike his father Tom has a conscious and knows that he has done the wrong thing, yet feels he can never go back. Williams shows that escaping a bad situation can sometimes make it worse, causing pain to Tom, Laura and Amanda. Williams uses the theme of escape to demonstrate how unhappiness within people make them desire new things; breaking free from their current circumstances in order to move on to something better. Williams suggests that the idea of dream and even the 'American dream' is an illusion to help escape from the real problems. Williams shows that holding onto memories can be negative as it is hard to move on and live in the present if you always want to go back. He shows that escape is not possible and in the end no character made a clean break. Tennessee Williams could have been sending a message through the play suggesting that you cannot escape and hide reality. The only escape in life is to solve your problems and not to avoid them. ...read more.

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