Escape from the Reality in the Play Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

- A response by P.T. Hiruni Hansika

Escapism is one of the pillar themes that Tennessee William’s play – The Glass Menagerie is based on. Escapism is a defense mechanism that people use to disconnect from their realities that may not satisfy them and indulge in their fantasies. Here, all the characters feel trapped and are incapable of living in the world. However, one striking similarity that the Wingfield share is their detachment from reality. Every one of them has a different way of expressing their disconnection. They desire freedom from their current lives in different ways. Physically, through their dreams, memory or material objects. Mr. Wingfield is a one of the central figure of the play although he is not a character that is physically present. Making frequent appearance through the memory of other three characters, he symbolically reminds escapism is the ultimate door to be free from the stressful reality. Williams attribute specific ways to each character to escape from their unsparing present realities.   

From the beginning of the play, it is revealed the frustrated life of Tom and his attempts to escape from his bitter reality, his intolerable job and burdened family life. Tom seeks different routes to seek refuge from those. He smokes to relax himself from the stressful encounters with his mother Amanda and crippled sister, Laura. Every time he leaves home through ‘fire escape’, it reminds him the dire necessity to escape from his burning self into the world of freedom. Further, to claims he goes to the movies for a sense of adventure as he does not get enough adventure from his everyday life nor at his workplace. So, he goes to movies to escape his world of reality where he leads a duel life.

When it comes to the story of Amanda Wingfield, she escapes from her reality by living in the past. She is obsessed with the nation of the ‘southern belle’ and identifies with a lifestyle lf ease and gentility that is far removed from her own. At every opportunity, she reminds of her past ‘blue mountain.’ As she keeps on living in her glorious past, she cannot see certain realities of the contemporary society.

Amanda fails to understand her children and others around her because she is constantly gloats about her past. She does not share a special bond that connects her with her children rather than a sense of duty and responsibility. Tennessee Williams expresses her flaws through her interactions with her children.

Laura is also a victim of her crippled realities of life. When she is dropped out of business school, she is used walking around as a way to make her mother think that she still learns at school. She tries to hide from the real world because of her feeling of insecurity and she finds shelter inside a life of fantasy with her ‘glass menagerie.’

Tom realizes that the escape his father demonstrated is not the true escape he wanted. However, without even being present, his father lets him down again. Unlike his father, Tom has awareness of his judgement and he knows that he had done a wrong thing; yet, he feels he can never go back. William shows that escaping a bad situation can sometimes make it worse causing pain. Using the personal battles again certain realities of the lives of Tom, Amanda and Laura, demonstrates the theme of escapism revealing how unhappiness within people make them venture into new routes, breaking free from their present circumstances in order to move on to something greener.

 

P.S.

This is the answer written by Hiruni to the question: All three main characters try to escape into fantasy in order to escape from the reality. How true this statement in the Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams?

Has she made her points clear with reference to the key point stressed in the question. Hope you start a discussion on this to make this post a productive one for the readers. What may be missing or what should be added to make this answer be more argumentative?

 

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