The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

Everyone has their own little world in which they indulge themselves in whether it be real or just a fantasy. In The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, everyone in the play experiences their own little world, and the shock it is to be thrown from it. Tom supports his family despite his unhappiness of his world. He tries to please Amanda by being the sole supporter, but only gets rewarded by Amanda’s constant nagging and suspicion.

Eventually Tom finds himself more like his father as he seeks adventure in the movies and hangs out on the fire escape he avoids suffocation, and desperately seeks the life he always desired; the life of adventure. By hanging out on the fire escape, Tom finds a temporary safe haven from Amanda. With Amanda nagging Tom about every minute action, like mastication, Tom needed to find somewhere to escape. Perhaps, even more, the fire escape shows various things about Tom’s personality. Since Amanda and Laura have their illusionary worlds inside, Tom can easily escape these worlds by going out on the firescape.

He does not desire to be part of an imaginary world, which only proves to be the downfall of Amanda and Laura. He realizes that the world is not what Amanda has made it seem inside the house. Also, during his reflections on the firescape he is not really separating himself from the imaginary world because that metal frame is still anchored to the apartment wall. This shows that no matter how hard Tom tries to escape he will always be ‘bounded’ to the apartment. His emotional attachments to Laura would permantly keep him there no matter what adventure he had chose to seek out.

With such a dull and stressful life, Tom was always looking for adventure like his father. Although it is only referred to a couple of times, the portrait of Tom’s father is one of the mose important symbols representing Tom. In the play, the portriat is a consant reminder to Amanda of the past she once knew and cherished. A long time ago, Amanda’s husband abandoned her and her children becaouse of his unhappy home life. Tom, like his father, felt that his home life was suppressing his true desires for adventure. It became unseemingly impossible for Tom to enjoy himself with Amanda’s nagging.

At every possible moment Tom would speak of some adventure, something grander he could be experiencing. Eventually using the money for the electric bill tom paid dues to the Union of Merchant Seamen. That organization was his savor from suffocation and a ticket to the life of adventure. Malvoli the Magician was an act that Tom would often see when he went to the movies every night. His coffin trick is a symbol of Tom’s suffocating life. Both Malvoli and Tom face life-threatening situations. In the trick, Malvoli faces death by suffocation if he does not successfully escape the coffin.

Tom faces death by emotional and spiritual suffocation if he does not find away out of the house. Also, the coffin itself symbolizes the lifestlye Tom is trying to escape. Tom views his life as a very cramped, dark situation. He fears the most spending fifty- five year of his life in the basement of the warehouse, only making sixty-five dollars a month, and never being able to achieve his dreams. Although he loves his family, the thought of being cooped up in a lifestlye he desires not to live is death itself.

Finally, during the coffin trick, Malvoli not only escapes, but does it without disturbing any of the nails. Tom claims “You know it don’t take much intelligence to get yourself into a naild-up coffin. But who in hell ever got himself out of one without removing a single nail” (415). Tom knows that Amanda and Laura are like those nails and it will be impossible for him to not disturb the nails. He is suffocating in his own figurative coffin, but knows his escape will upset Amanda and Laura. Throughout the play there are many symbols representing different aspects of all the characters.

Being realistic, Tom escaped from the fantasy world of Amanda and Laura by hanging out on the fire escape, even though he could never fully escape. Unfortunately for Tom, his life was cramped like the coffin and he was slowly suffocating emotionally and spiritually. Unhappy with the lifestlye he followed in the footsteps of his father, he searched for adventure, escaping the nagging of Amanda. Some people have their fantasy worlds, and chose to live in them but that does not necessarily mean it is the best for everyone.

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